The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, December 09, 2002

At the risk of sounding like an oldtimer, I do still sometimes find myself amazed at what the Internet has wrought.

I bought a new telephone answering machine a couple of months ago (my old one, which was in fact the first one I ever bought, died after 10+ years!). It's you basic digital answering machine, not much in the way of frills. I'm still getting the hang of some fundamental functions, though. Today, I got a message that I listened to once, then needed to repeat. Couldn't figure out how to do it. The obvious press-button combinations didn't do the trick, and after about a minute I gave up in disgust and started hunting for the manual. It wasn't where I figured it would be, and I started to suspect I had tossed it.

So I'm screwed, right? Not so! I figured right away that I should be able to track down the manual online. So I fired up the computer, went to AT&T's site, tracked down the consumer telephone products section, and in about 2 minutes found the manual I was looking for. I found out how to retrieve the message and repeat it to my heart's content.

Sure, if there was no Web, I suppose there would be a 1-800 help line, but that probably would have taken a good 10-15 minutes. And if I look really hard around the apartment, I probably will dig up the physical manual. But it's just extraordinary that there's such a huge knowledge base right here, accessible for even such mundane purposes. What an age.