Goodbye Bay Area hello everywhere else – and back to the fax

Nice idea, but there are downsides

ADM Argo 7196206, aka “Jack,” just delivered an email.

“Dear Harriet, Let me give you some new exciting news,” Argo says, prompting Harriet, the eponymous Hotmail chatbot, to reply, “Not so fast, Jack.”

“Okay,” Jack says to Harriet. “Once I have clicked on your greeting, I’ll begin to share some insightful thinking. Have you filled out my new grant application?”

“I filled it out, Jack, but I only got half your information in it. I have to go and login for my answers. I assume you’ll be here in a few minutes.”

“Oh, sure, Harriet.” “Check out your grant application later. It’s only around five minutes away.”

“Yeah, I do, Jack. Right here, in here. Can I go ahead and add the names to my grant list as I refresh my browser?”

“Sure, Harriet. Thank you. Good luck.”

Again, this would have been impossible not that long ago: The Bay Area was a virtual time-warp, where people by the hundreds of thousands, a few decades back, talked on instant messaging systems such as IRC and VOIP on their mobiles and computers.

Very soon, such stories as those of two men who stumbled upon each other’s living room after each pulled into the driveway along freshly paved driveways disappeared like private ornaments from remote scenery.

From nowhere and with a helping hand, many workers – famous and unknown – took to working remote. Plenty of calls were made for such widespread social change as a few ornaments that can readily be replaced.

Now is the time, with a bit of breathing room, to revisit such stories and meet the modern age of remote work. Many will complain about the drawbacks, but it is worth revisiting.

There are winners, those who’ve switched to remote work, and there are losers. Everybody ends up somewhere, and everyone loses. Not everybody, the great majority of folks, falls prey to losing. Many suffer from the usual problems that come with the voluntary shedding of a paycheck.

While some, such as those who share computers and play plenty of social games online, recover more quickly than others, they can stand a return to living in the moment, watching shows, composing poetry or plopping on some pot roast. It’s also wise to keep in mind that “not everybody,” in the English language, is a misty wet phlegm.

“OK, Harriet, go away to get my changes. I’ll be back in 10 minutes,” Jack tells her.

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