The Middle-Class African Digital Lifestyle

Following up with the “Digital Lifestylememe that is developing, I thought I’d give a more unique South African perspective.

My day starts off with me waking up to my alarm clock radio, which is tuned into the frequency my iTrip broadcasts on. The iPod alarm starts playing a preselected playlist one minute before the radio switches on.

Check traffic cam via sms service – in the low-resolution, low-zoom photo on a small cellphone screen it appears as though, yes, there ARE cars and trucks on the highway. Wow! All that useless info for R1.80. (US$0.30).

Contemplate checking traffic online. Well, the picture would be the same size and it only shows about four intersections in a 500 kilometre radius from the center of town. Other sites for traffic info? No there are none. Besides, I’ve nearly reached my 3 Gigabyte download cap for this month from my wireless ISP, so it’s just a waste of bytes. Shit. No traffic info for me.

Hop in my car – yeh, now we’re talking – auto headlights, auto windscreen wipers, aircon, MP3 radio via iTrip. Comfortable. Except for the traffic. Why is there never more than one person per car on average? Oh well, I’m guilty of not car-pooling as well.

Arrive at work, oh, the internet connection is down again. Yay! Drink coffee, call the phone company. Ummm, the telephone lines are also down. Use mobile phone to call the phone company – “Thank you for calling Telkom fault reporting desk, your call is important to us. You are number three hundred and two in our queue.” Half an hour goes by and the fault gets reported. Cost of phone call: R58 (US$9). Now we wait for the technician to respond.

…insert hours here…

Ah we’re back up! Surf, email, surf, RSS, iTunes music store – “We’re sorry, digital downloads not available in your country”, surf, give up. All on a 64k line. It’s too expensive to upgrade. Contemplate downloading a podcast. It could take all day. Rather not. Will schedule it for overnight. Oh, wait, I need to take my laptop home tonight. Shit. No podcast for me.

I need to go and pick up some equipment. Hmmm, not entirely sure where that address is. Online map? Search, search, search. Nothing useful. Google Maps? – “We’re sorry – map detail at this zoom level is not available.” Windows Live Local? Nope. Just stops zooming. Shit. No online map for me.

Head outside for a smoke break. Attempt to check GMail over GPRS. It connects! Log in! It’s working! No wait, no, no, aargh! MTN Mobile gateway reports – “Error – Unable to connect to server But I didn’t try, I tried Oh well, nothing new – its never worked before. Shit. No mobile GMail for me.

Time to go have some lunch at the local coffee shop. Boss says there’s an important mail coming in. “I’ll just take my laptop with and connect over the coffee shop wireless LAN.” Arrive at coffee shop. “Wireless LAN? Do we make that? I’m sorry sir, would you like that with cream or foam?” Shit. No wireless LAN for me.

Receive a link via email for funny video clip. Hell no, that’s way too big – respond saying cannot download it without clogging up the line to the net. Originator decides to “solve” my problem by sending the whole clip in an email. The line gets clogged up with incoming email. Phone calls start – “Shaun, what’s wrong with the Internet?” Shaddap and get back to work dammit, you shouldn’t be browsing. “I’ll check it out.” Log onto mail server and cancel incoming transmission. Shit. No video clip for me.

Decide to register for more university courses. Visit the student site. Although slow, it all works and is secure. Thank goodness.

Head home late, remembering that I forgot to set the VCR to record the one TV show I watch a week. Tivo? I wish. No TV for me.

So what does digital lifestyle mean to me? Having the same set of services (at reasonable cost) that I read about every day online, the stuff that many technically literate Americans and Europeans have come to take for granted in their everyday lives.

Technorati Tags: digitallifestyle, technology, lifestyle

Leave a Reply