Im writing this from Bologna, Italy, one of the last stops before we head towards my home town of Naples. By the time you read this, itll almost be time for another grand trek back to Germany and then home to the good old U.S. of A.
Am I enjoying myself? Of course. Is the country beautiful? Most definitely. Do I get to see family I havent seen in years? Yes.
Funny thing, though " lots of people have told me how jealous they are about this vacation. Im not sure they understand exactly what Ive gotten myself into. I mean, itd be a perfect vacation, except for a few things...
Being out of the loop
Im a business owner and a workaholic. My normal day sans vacation starts around 4am and doesnt end until 6 or 7 at night. Im a micromanager " I like to know whats going on with my business, from the blogs we post, to the client emails that go out and the posts on our social account.
Now, just in case you dont know, theres a lot of driving between Germany and Italy. I have a lot of spare time on my hands and nothing to do with it. The ability to check in on the business side of things is as sporadic as the Internet.
The Internet juice is powered by squirrels
- and the squirrels must be slower than turtles out here. If Twitter stats were any indication of my social life, I no longer have one. Skype access is only as available as the Internet. The same goes for email and anything else online.
In the US, Canada and UK, especially, many have the idea that Internet access is much like air " everywhere. It isnt. There are places along the way from Germany to Italy that probably havent even heard of the WWW.
" And if youre thinking you wouldnt have these problems as long as you take your HotSpot with you, you have another think coming. When theres no connection, theres no connection, and I dont care how hot you think your spot is.
The connection is spastic
I should have said, The squirrels are slower than molasses. They all, apparently, have some nervous condition, at that " or perpetual hiccups. Spastic little things.
Writing these few paragraphs to send to my editor has taken me 10 times longer than it does in the U.S. Youd think I was sending her 100MB of information or something. In fact, I have no idea how people work online in Italy, since the connection is so hit and miss.
Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I have this vague recollection of things being like this once in the U.S. Youd be online and then suddenly your connections would drop out on you. Youd keep refreshing, hoping that the connection would return. Hell, we do it on Twitter... Lets be honest. How many of us hit the refresh button at least 10 times when the big Fail Whale pops up, just hoping it would disappear?
Maybe its because the Internet is Italian snake oil...
Working in Italy and working online is a difficult road to travel. After speaking with a few Italians, Ive noticed that the Internet is still considered snake oil. I mean " the whole Internet, not just parts of it. Unless you run a huge agency, the Internet isnt something youre going to take seriously.
Look at some of the largest companies in Italy. I wont mention names, but just surf on over. Sure, they have Facebook (who doesnt, in Italy), and some may even be on Twitter, but its apparent that their interactions are minimal, if there are any at all.
As an aside, and just to give you an idea, a search on Google.it for the Italian version of SEO Company only brings back a measly 3 million results. Compare that to Google.coms 61 million.
Personally, I think some of these companies still have the gaming Google syndrome. You know, were you set up tons of accounts so you look beefier than you are. By the time they get done cleaning up all the stuff theyve done for the past two years, Google will have moved on to bigger and better things (Google +, anyone?).
Theres still hope
The older agencies seem to get it, and hopefully, with education and some basic common sense, theyll understand that this is the future. This is how business will be done, moving forward.
Maybe Im a dreamer, but the Internet has brought so many changes to so many peoples lives, that we use it not only to share the latest, but also to advance clients companies and better our human situation.
One of the best examples I can think of is the company that started a small grass root movement to help small scale, artisanal farmers in the South of Italy: Adopt an olive tree. Nudo makes olive oil without mass-producing it. With Nudo, you can actually adopt a tree, receive a certificate of adoption and keep track of it. You then get two packages containing the trees produce.
The point here is that sharing is not a bad word; sharing is good. Sharing will not make you weaker. Keep in mind, it's part of the whole.
Even though I come from Italy, the U.S. is my home. "And, maybe its idealistic, but I feel that its our responsibility, as SEOs, marketing, business professionals and online merchants to educate the world around us. To leave a better world behind for our children and the legacy they can build on.