Now There’s a Novel Idea…

The other half was wrestling with the horror that is trying to book half-way non-bankrupting flights to the US over Christmas yesterday* when he had a sudden and brilliant thought. Wouldn’t it be amazing if – instead of struggling on with seven different tabs open looking for flights, each page taking a good minute to load through our rural broadband, and all suddenly changing their mind half way through as to whether the amazingly cheap price was actually available after all, and some of them adding taxes and some not, and some having extra costs for checked luggage and some sending you to the middle of the States via the West Coast and, I don’t know, Bratislava and Ulan Bator, and some giving you 14 hours to change plane and others about 40 minutes and some giving you a range of flights but no way of booking and others trying to add on insurance and hotels and car hire and dancing girls as default options, and the broadband going down at the crucial moment just as you thought you were getting there – instead of all that, there was someone you could ring up who would just do it all for you? An agent, as it were, acting on your behalf, to organise your travel. Or if you want something more snappy, how about ‘travel agent’? To our amazement we discovered there is such a thing and the other half rang one up and within half an hour or so she had rung back having tracked down flights almost as cheap as the cheapest ones advertised online. Even after having to drive into Bigtown in the sort of rain you only get when you have been energetically taunting the Weather Gods** with half the town flooded and every car park taken up by the preparations for the annual fair, it was still far, far nicer than actually booking the things on line would have been and we got to have lunch in Subway as well, which counts as a treat these days.

In fact I think the idea’s got a lot of potential in general. For instance, there could be secure places in town where you could do your internet banking and prove your identity by signing something instead of having to jump through seventeen hoops remembering what you claimed was your favourite book, or the name of your best friend in primary school’s dog. Or if you wanted to find something out there could be buildings with actual books full of information in them that you could read at your leisure without having to peer at a tiny squinty screen. Or there could be places with clothes you could try on before paying for them and waiting for them to be delivered and only then discovering that they didn’t fit. Or you could even bump into people you know and say hello to them instead of poking them or writing on their wall in Facebook. Well, obviously the last one’s ridiculous, but you know what I mean. The technology would be a challenge, of course, but I think it could be done…

*I know, I know, this basically wipes out all of our efforts saving electricity and putting in the woodburning stove and driving less and then some. But that’s where the other half’s parents live and I’d be in deep serious trouble with his Mom otherwise

** Yeah, sorry about that by the way.  I didn’t think their response would be that immediate and dramatic.

9 Responses to Now There’s a Novel Idea…

  1. Dom says:

    I was going to post a link to an amusing article on ‘S-Commerce’ I found a few years ago which detailed a new wave of buying things that involved going to special places called ‘shops’. A Google for s-commerce, however, just returned lots of sites to do with ‘social commerce’ whatever that is. Sometimes I wonder if we, as a species, have maybe gone just a little too far… 🙂

  2. Kim says:

    Hum, using people to do things, isn’t that expensive? Or is this part of “the Big Society” where they do it on a voluntary basis whilst living off their private incomes?

  3. WOL says:

    Actually, I just got a Kindle and I think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread — but there’s some things (like graphic novels) that I’d want as a real paper-pages book.

    I think you would not be so frustrated if you had a decent internet connection (and a decent sized monitor?).

    Alas, we are becoming an E-society whether we want to be or not. Resistance is futile.

  4. welshcyclist says:

    Personally I like the idea of having people to do things for me, getting things done via the internet is complicated, I need dedicated doers.

  5. disgruntled says:

    Dom – clearly it’s an idea whose time has not yet come
    Kim – true, or we could pay them a little bit more not to have the hassle (now there’s a *really* novel idea)
    WOL – A faster connection would help, but it’s poorly designed websites that really bug me, especially as a little bit of usability testing would have gone a long way
    Welshcyclist – too true. In fact, in life in general…

  6. R::B says:

    Spoken like a true IT person.
    Are we the only ones who realise that this computer/internet malarky is entirely flash-in-the-pan and we’ll all be using pencils again sooner or later?
    What do you mean “don’t be silly”?

  7. Helen says:

    Having just gone through similar hassle with trying to book a hotel in Singapore and then yesterday trying to move some money where the extra security layer (provided for me free I was informed) refused to even go as far as letting me enter my overly complicated password I can see where you are coming from…

  8. disgruntled says:

    R::B – damnit, I’m trying to leave those days behind me. Clearly you can take the girl out of the IT department…
    Helen – sounds like exactly the sort of nightmare I had in mind

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