25 June 2011
As I write this, I'm on a train, a transport mode which I often prefer and use when practical. It's running on time, which isn't unusual though is hardly universal. In a prior era, I'd have had a quiet morning, just arriving comfortably ahead of departure. Now that we're in the web era, though, I'm able to check information about this train ahead of time. And, about other trains that might affect it. And, since I'm able to check, I feel that I should. And, since I did, I found that trains a couple of hundred miles away on the line had been disrupted earlier. And, earlier, it wasn't apparent whether or when this would be resolved. Gasp! I might not reach my destination as intended. Time to purchase an alternate itinerary, only partly refundable. Check again. Still no web information confirming departure. Arrive at station. Normal departure, the agent tells me. Received with welcome surprise but still some skepticism. Board train, cancel alternate itinerary wirelessly. I'm smoothly on my way just as I would have been if I hadn't checked online, only with more preliminary angst. Online access sometimes brings more data, and sometimes offers more useful control, but can also lead to innovative goose chases that wouldn't have arisen otherwise. A mixed blessing.