I bought my first smartphone (T-Mobile’s original sidekick) in 2003, and being able to browse the web on my phone was life-changing. Suddenly, I was able to download driving directions anywhere, check e-mail when I was stuck in a line, or even read books on the go. Then in 2009 (using an HTC G1), I experienced another revolution when I realized that I could tether my phone to my netbook in order to get internet access. For anyone who does not know, “tethering” simply means attaching a cell phone to a computer so that the computer gets an internet connection through the phone. Tethering has been life-changing for me in three ways:
1. Freedom from hot spots. Before tethering, I was always looking for wi-fi hotspots that would provide me with internet connectivity. I was, essentially, tethered to the library, bookstore, restaurant, or whatever other location could provide me access to the web. Now, web access is not a limiting factor for me. I can go wherever I like, knowing that I will have web access there, thanks to my excellent cell phone service.
2. Productivity all the time. I am also free to be as productive as I like. For example, if I am a passenger in a car, I can be on the web doing work. The web-based work I want to do is always available to me. While some people might consider this extreme access stifling, I find it liberating.
3. Beating the system. Especially when tethering was first becoming popular, those of us who accessed the web in this way felt like we were beating the system. With my unlimited data plan, I still kind of feel that way. Although I did not invent tethering, I feel pretty clever when I do it.
In summary, tethering makes me feel more freedom and greater power. It allows me to control my on-line work flow, instead of being subjective to arbitrary geographic limitations.