In 2004, a surprising number of campgrounds across the United States began to offer WiFi services at no additional charge. (In fact, this chapter itself was written while at a campground in Massachusetts and was shared between the authors and editorial staff while 2.7 children were roasting marshmallows and hoping for cooler weather.) While staying at one such campsite during the summer of 2004 in the Northeast, an observational survey of campers was made to determine the extent and nature of connected camping. Here are the results of this highly informal survey:
The campground community was almost evenly divided between retired couples over 60 and families whose adults were under 40 and had several kids in tow.
Casual observance at this particular campground showed that the main users of WiFi were those in the over-60 group, who were primarily keeping in touch with distant family members and participating in various virtual community groups. (They were not managing their supply chains.)
The members of the under-40 group were typically on shorter stays at the campground and could suffer through with mere cell phone connectivity for a couple of days.
One member of the under-40 group was able to barter his way to Internet access for a beer.
Campground owners and operators provide WiFi connectivity as a value-add service because they have somehow gotten the message that it is not only good for business, but that keeping campers happily clicking away in their tents, RVs, campers, and Winnebagos contributes to crowd control. Whether addicted to instant messaging or just keeping up with the Joneses in the neighboring Winnebago, those of us who have crossed the divide have done so for personal reasons that often outweigh the business drivers. Once over the divide, they prefer to carry their connected lives with them.
The connected cognoscenti among us now expect wireless Internet access no matter where they are. They find it critical for continued business operations (no matter what business they are in) or essential to their personal lives. The list of venues where the connected cognoscenti now expect to find WiFi would be astounding to the unconverted observer. (You want to use that thing here?) But make no mistake, challenges faced by carriers and conflicting technologies aside, the list of the connected among us grows by the thousands daily, and ubiquitous connectivity is now their expectation with regard to the future. In the words of Dr. Christakis, "Many people, myself included, find it absolutely absurd that they cannot keep current with their e-mail while in a taxi riding through farmland outside of London." Connectivity expectations abound.