Since I just posted something regarding an interruption of wireless service this weekend, I want to get your thoughts regarding our current policy.
We get so many comments and complaints every day from other non-laptop users - customers who have been visiting this space for 10+ years - about how computers take up most of our tables throughout the day. Of course, it is unquestionable that computers have become ubiquitous inside most coffeehouses. In fact, I believe that they have become inseparable and that in order for a business like ours to be viable and attract customers, this service has to be provided.
So, my question is this: is it possible to create a good balance between our different demographics? What makes this space so amazing and great and comfortable is the fact that there is much history, a strong community, and the people who come here are usually aware, participating, and in dialogue with a larger world outside of these walls and this city. It's a shame that some folks feel that they are being pushed out by a new technology - one, that, honestly, I'm still coming to terms with myself. I understand that this sentiment is partly derived from a slight fear of the new and perhaps a manifestation of an increasing generational gap, but, nonetheless, it is a valid concern that creates conflict, worry, much argument and division. I must also note that many laptop users - writers, students, those working from "home"- here are aware of our spatial (and economic) limitations and try their best to share tables and purchase something every hour or so.
I guess the spectrum of possibilities range from not offering wireless at all, limiting it to certain times of the day or days of the week, limiting it to certain tables, charging an hourly fee (!), plugging up all the electrical outlets and have people rely on their batteries, to not changing anything at all. I don't want you - laptop users - to feel that we are waging a war against you, but want you to understand this ongoing concern of ours and that we want you to be part of shaping our new policy in this ever-changing landscape and environment. If you'd rather not comment on the blog, you can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
a recent NPR story on the subject
CNN on tech etiquette (from 2005)
Lastly, a poem from A Brief Description of the Excellent Vertues of that Sober and wholesome Drink, called Coffee, and its Incomparable Effects in Preventing or Curing Most Diseases incident to Humane Bodies (London: Paul Greenwod, 1674):
The RULES and ORDERS of the Coffee-House
Enter Sirs freely, But first if you please,
Peruse our Civil-Orders, which are these.
First, Gentry, Tradesmen, all are welcome hither,
And may without Affront sit down Together:
Pre-eminence of Place, none here should Mind,
But take the next fit Seat that he can find:
Nor need any, if Finer Persons come,
Rise up for to assigne to them his Room;
To limit mens expence, we think not fair,
But let him forfeit Twelve-pence that shall Swear:
He that shall any Quarrel here begin,
Shall give each Man a Dish t’Atone the Sin;
And so shall He, whose Complements extend
So far to drink in COFFEE to his friend;
Let Noise of loud Disputes be quite forborn,
No Maudlin Lovers here in Corners Mourn,
But all be Brisk, and Talk, but not too much
On Sacred things, Let none Presume to touch,
Nor profane Scripture, or sawcily wrong
Affairs of State with an Irreverent Tongue:
Let Mirth be Innocent, and each Man see,
That all his Jests without Reflection be;
To keep the House more Quiet, and from Blame,
We Banish hence Cards, Dice, and every game:
Nor can allow of Wagers, that Exceed
Five shillings, which oft-times much Trouble Breed;
Let all that’s lost, or forfeited, be spent
In such Good Liquour as the House does vent,
And Customers endeavour to their Powers,
For to observe still seasonable Howers.
Lastly let each Man what he calls for Pay,
And so you’re welcome to come every day.