The Internet sure seemed like a good idea at the time

Posted By Kathleen Maher on May 20, 2009 12:00 am | Permalink
Here’s the set up – the writer at her desk. Tappity tap tap tap, writity, write, write write. Then, a pause, a thought, she turns to the Internet to check an assumption. Time passes. The tapitty tap tap tap, has slowed to the occasional tap, tap. There’s no writity write write write. There’s only the slow tap tap tap of an Internet zombie. The mood is gone, all productivity is shot.

There’s no 12 step program because when you go to the web to look for it, you get distracted and wind up following a link on Twitter to a story about a toilet that sends a twitter update every time it flushes. Then, maybe you check your Facebook page and discover that you absolutely have to befriend someone you knew in grade school, who, incidentally you never liked. The, it’s off to check email where a well-intentioned fellow zombie offers you a link to YouTube and a newscaster-frightened-by-a-lizard and my, where does the time go.

Right now, businesses are being hit the hardest. Companies have seen their productivity go down the drain year by year since the introduction of the browser. The decline has been incremental and not all that noticeable until about five years ago when My Space began eating children’s heads – we looked on in mild horror, -- and then Facebook and LinkedIn came for us. We never knew what hit us. Twitter followed up as cleanup. More social networks are appearing by the hour. And there’s never any lack for something to watch, thanks to YouTube, Hulu, Yahoo, Google, all those oo sounds, that say you you you, it’s all about you. It’s not, about you, by the way, it’s about money. Vast sums of it are flowing into the coffers of some gigantic mega-companies like Google, Yahoo, News Corp in exchange for your productivity. Al Qaeda could not have arranged it better.

So, here’s how I’m going to make my fortune and save the world. I’ve invented the productivity button. Yep, it’s a little program that monitors your computer use and when it catches you straying off course, the productivity button appears accompanied by a commanding voice that tells you to Get Back to Work. There’s a bunch of complicated algorithms involved of course, but basically the program monitors internet use and when it detects a certain number of hops, multiplied by the number of open tabs, and at the same time there is no corresponding input in a spreadsheet or document, then the Button is triggered. Going to YouTube, Facebook, or Ebay adds a factor of 3. If the Productivity Button is ignored, then last document you were working on pops up full screen and all access to the Internet is cut off for an hour.

So, who is going to pay for such a thing? After all, no one likes being told what to do. Right, but you work for a living. In general, your lot in life is to be told what to do by someone. The productivity button will be installed on every workplace computer. It’s a crisis people.

Next up, the government will probably have to mandate that every computer be equipped with a Productivity Button and they’ll probably demand I subsidize Buttons for the less fortunate. That’s okay, I’m cool with that. I figure the EU will buy it, and give it to the people which will make up for the American subsidy.
Japan, well let’s not talk about Japan. They’ve had the Productivity Button for years and look where it’s gotten them. On the other hand, I can threaten them with an IP lawsuit and they’ll probably pay up just to avoid the agita.

China will dismiss the idea out of hand – Chinese people are hard working and they don’t get distracted like effete Europeans and Americans. Then they’ll invent the button, so there’s no revenue there for me. India, likewise, will believe no button is necessary, but once I explain the possible Al Qaeda theory, I’m probably good for a billion licenses.

So, once I get rich, what am I going to do with my time? First of all, I will stay the hell away from the Internet. I’ll just go visit people instead – preferably people who live in Italy, Hawaii, France, and Puerta Vallerta. I have a list.