Occasionally Connected

Originally posted on 7/19/2005
I commute an hour to and from work each day. During the trip I spend at least half my time underground (or under the San Francisco Bay) without an Internet connection.* Even when I am above ground and do have access to a cellular signal, I rarely use it since I have been spoiled by broadband speeds. I also fly from SFO to JFK several times a year. Each trip is five hours of ‘isolation’ from the Internet.

In walks Occasionally Connected Computing (OCC). According to Intel,

“In the OCC model, a connection is used but not always needed. That is, if the connection is severed, the application should still be functional to the highest degree that is reasonably possible.”

More and more services are being based on this model. Perhaps the best known (and most widely used) application is email. Everything from Outlook to Blackberrys allow email to be cached and viewed offline. Responses can be written and held until the next time the device (in this case a laptop or a PDA/Smartphone) makes a connection.

Now, more and more services are offering this type of access to content, and users are adopting it quickly. The next few posts will deal with some of the applications that I use and how they benefit the occasionally connected lifestyle when it comes to accessing and creating media.

* Some carriers do have antennae at some of the underground stations in downtown SF, but your time is so limited and the data rates are so slow, that they are in effect useless for any significant Web functions.