When I asked the organizer of the workshop I have been attending in a somewhat remote non-US location about internet access, he said that when he is not in his office, he never checks his e-mail or connects to the internet, so that is how he has organized this workshop.
Well, OK, I survived being disconnected for a few days, though at times I felt a bit faint and short of breath. I can see the benefits for a small workshop of staying focused and not having people checking their e-mail constantly, but I think there should have been some provision for occasional internet access, especially since phone access, although at least possible, is not easy for various reasons.
Just because the workshop organizer revels in being internetless when away from the office, does not mean he should have imposed this philosophy so completely on the rest of us. Even once/day access would have been fine.
Having internet access isn’t just about checking on things at the office. When I travel, the internet is how I stay in touch with my family and friends. While at the workshop, I could be easily contacted in an emergency, but there are non-emergency but still important reasons to connect to the rest of the world.
The day I arrived at the workshop, my husband’s beloved aunt died. I want to know how he’s doing. I want to check my daughter’s camp website and see if there are pictures of her having fun in a canoe or around a campfire. I want to check on my cat, who, just before I left, fell (or was pushed..) from a very great height in a tree. Yes, he landed on his feet, one of which then spectacularly broke. [They never mention the broken bone part of the cats-landing-on-their-feet thing, nor how much it costs to get cat femurs surgically fixed]. And so on.
I said to Professor I-never-check-email-away-from-the-office: “But don’t you then return to hundreds of e-mails that you have to sort through? Isn’t that very time-consuming and annoying?”. He admitted that this was indeed the case, but still thought it was worth it to have some internet-free days. That’s fine of course, but that’s not my preference. I’d rather stay connected to family and friends, delete the stupid e-mails and department memos day-by-day, and not return to a scary e-mail inbox.
I am still at the workshop, but I have finally managed to find a wireless signal that I can access once (maybe twice) day.
10 months ago