The Internet is changing the summer cottage experience

Life at the cottage

Ten years ago, I had a computer at my cottage, 250 Km north of Toronto; I would drag the PC and the monitor up because I was blogging about modern prefab and needed it for email. It was relegated to the back room and had a dialup connection. Every morning I would get in the boat and go across to my car and drive 6 km to town for a Globe and Mail.

Everyone else who was here, they swam, read books, played scrabble and crokinole and gin.

Six years ago, DSL came to town and I set up a computer at a friend’s office in town, and drove to work every day, so that I could spend my summers up here while working for TreeHugger. Five years ago, satellite became available and I installed a dish; it was awful, but meant that I could work from the cabin. Three years ago, 3G cellphone internet came and now, I can work from here as easily as I can at home, albeit a lot more expensively since I blew threw the 4 gig limit and am now paying ma Bell 15 cents per meg, but it is the price of being able to work like this.

But what is really interesting is the way that it is changing the way we actually use the cottage. My son Hugh brought a pile of friends up this weekend, and they do still play scrabble and Boggle and Crokinole. But they also inhale the internet like I do, and at one point there were six computers set up at the dining room table.

With the Olympics being on, we borrowed an old TV from our neighbours the Altons, but I mostly watch on my iPhone on a cheap special deal they have; for special events, I tehter my iPhone to Kelly’s computer and we watch on the big screen via the projector.

The way we use the cottage has seriously changed since the internet came to town. It is for me, an extension of the city rather than a getaway; for the wired kids, it is gaming and surfing with brief interruptions for dinner and a jump in the lake.

It is wonderful that I can spend two months here and do my job; on the other hand, we have lost something. I don’t particularly want to go back to the way it was; I have changed too, and expect to be wired wherever I am. One might as well be nostalgic for the time before there were telephones. Nonetheless, tomorrow night, when the kids are gone, I may challenge Kelly to a game of Rummy 500.

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