November 2, 2012

A note on isolation and connectivity

Filed under: Egypt, On blogging — acagle @ 11:12 am

Today I almost got into a session of just clicking around to various web sites to waste time. Imagine that: sitting in a dig house in Egypt futzing around online out of (sort of) boredom. It got me thinking more about the nature of fieldwork and the newfound connectivity we have here. When I came here in 1988 for the first time, we really were cut off from the world. No telephone, no mail, and only a short wave radio for outside information and/or entertainment. I just about went batty. Things weren’t really all that different for me until 2003 when there were internet cafes at least in Maadi (suburb of Cairo) where we were based, so at least at the end of the day I could, for a few shekels, send and receive emails. That was great because I could get news from the home front on a daily basis and keep the project PI informed of what we were doing. It was still a slow connection so web surfing was pretty much out, but the contact was very welcome, but at the same time we were still kind of isolated.

Fast forward to now, and I have 3G nearly all the time so at least as far as sitting in front of a computer is concerned, it’s not much different from being home. I can send and receive email all day if I’m here, surf whatever web sites I want, and actually freely Skype with the ArchaeoWife whenever I want (although it’s pretty much restricted to Saturday or Sunday night for me, due to the time difference).

It’s only the last few days that I’ve been doing more web surfing. I still value just being out of the loop and concentrating just on the tasks at hand. OTOH, in the previous post I related how I was using Google Translate to work through a French publication. I would have been dead in the water before this. Plus, that remoteness can be trying after a while; I think after the third week the novelty of being in a strange place wears off and you start looking for familiar things again.

So, I shall try to refrain from randomly web surfing as I don’t want to end up ‘doing the same things I do back home’; living and working in a very different, and very much simpler environment for a while has doe me a world of good and I want to keep it that way. For five more weeks.

And fer Christsakes at least I can totally avoid any election crap. . . . . .

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