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Field Research and Skype

Dease Lake Caribou

Originally uploaded by TFM

I spent last week — my reading break — in northwestern British Columbia. It was my first trip back to the area during the winter since I completed my dissertation fieldwork in March of 2003. It was a real treat to visit old friends. Some things hadn’t changed: late night card games were a hoot and the caribou were visible on the highway outside of Dease Lake, just where they should be at this time of the year.

I did no have easy access to a telephone. There is no cel coverage and my accommodation did not have one. I did, however, have wireless internet. I also had Skype (an internet phone system which allows calls to land lines) on my computer and used that to phone people and set up visits. There was a minor delay on the calls, but no one hung up on me and our messages were communicated effectively.

It got me wondering, though: how common is it to be in a place where you have internet but no phone? Is this an anomaly or a glimpse of what will be common at some point in the future?

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