I like to think I'm resistant to neophilia, the fetishistic embrace of new technology endemic to Silicon Valley. And yet I felt a rush when I logged on to Gogo's inflight Wi-Fi service on the American Airlines flight I'm currently taking from San Francisco to New York. The airliner's cabin has long been the last online frontier, a disturbing pocket of disconnectivity. My colleague Jackson West urged me to test the service, to review it for my readers. But I find myself more preoccupied with human needs than speeds and feeds. More than anyone, I worry about the likes of Mary Meeker.I can hear the 20somethings in the audience scratching their heads: "Who's Mary Meeker?" Back in the '90s, investment banks' Internet analysts were superstars, viewed as oracles and rainmakers. In 1999, Meeker, Morgan Stanley's lead Internet analyst, got a profile in the New Yorker. The text is not online, but I distinctly remember how it chronicled Meeker's nonstop activity. The only time she was still was when she boarded an airplane, closed her eyes, and slept through the flight. Could she have stayed awake, had she known she could achieve download speeds of 989 kilobits per second, with a latency of 108 milliseconds, for the low, low price of $12.95 a flight? Inflight connections, currently on a handful of flights, will rapidly go from novelty to necessity. Bosses will expect workers to log on nonstop; why shouldn't they? Even on leisure trips, compulsive connectors will go online out of sheer habit. I recently remarked to a friend, "Planes are for sleeping." That's before I got onto Gogo. Alas, poor Mary; even soaring above the clouds, there will be no rest for the weary.
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