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Being Blocked from the Social Web

For the past few days I have been staying in England for the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed. While the event has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience because of the cool work we’ve been doing with The Henry Ford and their future Racing in America exhibit, it’s also been extremely frustrating being here for one reason: lack of access to the internet. Go ahead, chuckle and get it out of your system.

As someone who spends the majority of their life online I come to rely on my ability to get online. I’ve become spoiled by my ability to virtually always get online from any location.

The majority of work that we do at New Marketing Labs involves needing to be online. One of the main reasons why I’m in England is to capture content to upload online. Sounded easy enough while back in Boston, right? Well, when planning the trip I knew that I wouldn’t have data on my iPhone. It’s just too expensive and I wasn’t going to get a UK phone just for this trip. I was ok with that. At least the hotel had free wifi, I thought to myself. Score. Except that as I’ve gotten settled at the hotel I’ve found out that they block access to every social site. So far I’ve found that they block Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Luckily I was able to get on to Flickr to upload all of the photos that I’ve been taking. But, otherwise, I’ve been basically disconnected from the social web for the past couple days.

Now, I agree that it is good to disconnect to spend time with family and friends but not when you’re traveling for work and need access. What I think is worse is that it’s like dangling a carrot in front of my eyes that I can almost reach. I can access the internet. I can even sort of access Twitter by going through TweetDeck. But, anything else = have fun trying. This means that I have to use precious time while at Goodwood huddled in the media tent trying to share a connection with 100 other folks uploading content of their own. It’s possible but I much preferred the idea of doing it from the hotel at night during my “off” time.

While I’ve been able to mostly get my work done, even if a bit delayed, it has been very frustrating. So, my question to you is what do you do when you run into technology issues that prevent, or greatly hinder, your ability to get your work done?

Correction: I’m apparently able to access Flickr but not able to see any photos while doing a search hence why there isn’t an accompanying photo with this post of someone running into a wall.  Their system is even classifying Chris Brogan’s website as a Usenet and is blocking it. Go figure.

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  • Justin Parks

    Its interesting that you mention this Justin as I wonder sometimes what it would be like to be in the USA where everything seems to be accessible and available online, free wifi everywhere and no idiots blocking things and where a good proportion of the people work and use the internet frequently as part and parcel of their every day lives and their bread and butter (this is the perception at least!).

    Now I realise your not a native here so you don't want to be spending money on new and temporary contracts with mobile providers etc and the natives will have more access but.. well… blocking social sites and sharing 5mb internet connections between 100 people… welcome to Europe. Its so far behind its not even funny.

    When we hit tech problems like you have experienced then the only solution really is to through your hands in the air, look for someone with the same or similar issues and head to the pub to drink and complain long into the night. Helps relieve the stress. 😛


  • Judy Helfand

    Happy July 4th to you. It is early here in Tucson, not quite 8:00AM. I have sort of followed your tweets over the past few days and I could feel your frustration. I don't have any tried and true suggestions, but if nothing else maybe you can use this trip as a “live and learn”, “lessons learned” project for NML. For example, what questions would you ask of a foreign hotel the next time you are making a reservation for a business trip. I know this may sound trite. A few months back I arranged for one of our team to visit a client that happens to be part of a hospital. The trip's purpose was to teach one of their employees how to use blogger software. Training manual written, appointment made, team member drives 80 miles(one-way), and what do you know-the hospital's servers block all social marketing sites, including blogger. Why would we even think to ask about hospital firewalls, but we won't forget the next time.
    Justin Parks may have a valid point regarding hotel's restricted 5mb, but it could be time for NML to get a UK phone(s) so that when one or more of you need to travel to Europe you are ready to go. If you push a pencil to maintaining this type of an account, vs your “lost” work productivity hours, etc. you might find it to be a good investment. Afterall, your trip resulted from what I believe is a pretty important project “Racing in America” exhibit. Right? In the future, plan to build “an accessibility expense” into your bids.
    Years ago, many years ago, companies had a few CELL phones (the size of shoeboxes) that were available for employees to reserve and use for business trips (local or overnight).
    Enjoy your holiday.

  • Justin Parks

    A good point regarding the purchase of a UK phone Judy and it would be 100% full proof if Roaming didnt exist. Even if you purchase a UK mobile with, say Vodafone, for example, then as soon as you leave UK jurisdiction (airspace, territory etc.) you switch to the new signal in the country your travelling in. Roaming charges are applied, even if Vodafone are a provider in said country.

    Its a joke frankly… It means then that you end up with exactly the same situation as having a US Phone.

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  • justinlevy

    Ha! That's *exactly* what I ended up doing. It was definitely frustrating
    but understandable.

  • justinlevy

    Thanks for the suggestions Judy. The reason why we don't have any UK
    phone(s) or data plans is that, as of right now, we're not traveling there
    that often. We have done the math. But, in the future I think that
    opportunity may increase and then we would get phone plans, data plans and
    any other accommodations we would need to be consistently productive while
    traveling in the UK.