Monday, 20 October 2014

In the air tonight

With an impressive 119 votes, the poll on wi-fi in pubs shows almost two-thirds (64%) either being indifferent or seeing its absence as a positive, and only 36% considering it a must-have or highly desirable feature. The point of asking this question is not to criticise its presence as, after all, unlike such things as loud music or screaming children, it scarcely impinges on other customers, but rather those who see pubs as simply a list of “facilities” and feel aggrieved if one lacks the particular feature that interests them. Surely it’s a good thing that pubs aren’t all the same.

On a recent pub-crawl of Edgeley, one of the more down-to-earth parts of Stockport, one fairly traditional pub was advertising free wi-fi as you went in through to door, so obviously it’s becoming pretty commonplace. However, I have to say that (perhaps because I am short-sighted) that browsing the internet on a smartphone cuts you off much more from what is going on in the rest of the pub than reading a newspaper, so possibly to some extent it might promote disconnection and social isolation.

22 comments:

  1. If your drinking in a "down-to-earth part of Stockport", social isolation is a positive and a tad safer no?

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  2. One of the plus points of free wi-fi is that people can go in the pub in the daytime and work on their computer whilst having a pint (and/or lunch!). In this respect they are in competition with the many coffee houses, so I think it is a good thing.
    However, with my quizmaster's hat on, it is a pain in the arse in an evening when I'm doing a quiz!

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  3. I hate devices in pubs (probably because I work in IT) but most people who use them appreciate wifi as it saves their data costs on 3G/4G.

    Of all the things that pubs could do without (football / screamy football types, loud thumpy music, gambling machines, pool tables etc etc) wifi is not really a bother.

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  4. You wouldn't want to flash about the latest Ipad Air in a "down-to-earth part of Stockport", Peter, not if you wanted to keep the device and your teeth. You'd want to wear trackie bottoms, flash your tats, not stand out, like Mudgie does.

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  5. Cookie, the really rough boozers in that neck of the worlds are all keg-only so we don't have to go in...

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  6. Martin, Cambridge20 October 2014 at 17:59

    The Armoury should offer free Wi-Fi if you finish 3 pints of Old Tom.

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  7. I like to browse my smartphone if I don't *want* to interact with the rest of the pub. That doesn't mean to say I won't be polite and engage with others if they make conversation, but it's a fairly clear signal that I'm happy with my own company. Most people will respect that and leave me be.

    As such WiFi will attract my custom. Does it put off others who want that random social interaction? I doubt it, and the greater prevelence will mean the same people will go to the same pubs they want to go to.

    As someone has mentioned, pubs are competing for the daytime trade (and increasingly evenings) with the likes of Starbucks, and WiFi is a definite requirement.

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  8. I fully understand the need for
    some to maintain some form of contact with the living elsewhere
    as any form of meaningfull dialogue with the current pub clientele is nigh on impossible.
    There is of course the dizzy hights of stepping outside for an
    inspirational discourse with the
    smoking lepers astride the grids propping up the wheely bins,scanning the cosmos for answers
    A Sad Saxon

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  9. I like the way you always interpret "not bothered either way" as "supports my basic point" on these polls - you could equally say that more than four out of five people see it as good or indifferent, or that twice as many people see it as at least a big plus as see it as in any way negative...

    That aside, one thing that's interesting (to me) is that a lot of the pubs in the original post didn't just not have wi-fi, they essentially bragged about not having it. Going so far as to advertise that you don't have it (rather than just not having it) seems to step over into active customer-antagonism. It's the sort of thing that people indulge in almost to show off that they're successful enough anyway that they can get away with it - like star chefs who antagonize vegetarians or hot nightclubs that are famous for their arbitrary door policy. And I suppose that to that extent it's probably a sign of a good pub, in that they can get enough people in for the beer and the company that they can afford to shun the afternoon Macbook mavens or Facebook addicts. Or at least, they think they can.

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  10. One other point - what's the difference between going to the pub and looking at your electronic device for a couple of hours and popping into the pub for a couple of hours to read the newspaper or a book?

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  11. "I like the way you always interpret "not bothered either way" as "supports my basic point" on these polls"

    No - the question was "Is free wi-fi an important factor in your choice of pub?" and if you don't care either way the answer is no.

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  12. @Peter, the difference in Stockport is between someone nicking your 25p daily star or nickinng your £600 iPad. Take your pick, and don't read something better than the Star. Reading owt else will have you down as a toff and pick your teeth off the floor before you leave, pal. So rough, only Nails Mudgie dares pop in for an early morning wife beater on the way to sign on.

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  13. While appreciating that roughness is relative and that Mudgie is a down at heel old codger, I rather regard Stockport, even its rough areas, as genteel.

    I live in Miggy of course......

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  14. Down at heel old codger? Mudgie is in real life built like a brick shit house. All shaven head, tattoos, wife beater vest, trackie bottoms, thick gold chain, pit bull on a leash. Don't be fooled by an image created on a blog.

    The only safe way to have a drink in Stockport is to do what I did and go along to a beardy pub crawl and remain safe under the wing of protection that Mudgie affords all that trundle along with him. Otherwise the whole place is a no go area. I didn't get knifed because I was safe with the beards.

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  15. 5 years ago I would have said Wi-Fi was a big deal, but does anyone actually need it nowadays? Aside from the odd blackspot, my phone is pretty much constantly online without the need for Wi-Fi.

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  16. "Mudgie is in real life built like a brick shit house" - takes one to know one :p

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  17. Many users will like to save their data allowance, given that new contracts for the best phones can be expensive for high amounts of data.

    Depending on networks black spots are far too common. I find Vodafone very poor in London. One pub in Clapham Junction (Draft House) leaves me with no signal at all. If they didn't have WiFi I wouldn't go, as it is I'm a weekly visitor at least, and bringing groups of friends.

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  18. Dangerman is spot on. Only the other week I was trapped in a village in Yorkshire. Got lost pub surveying, got on the wrong bus, fell asleep as I’d had a few. Woke up in the type of place close relatives marry. Village of the damned. No way out. I wandered about for hours avoiding the locals out of fear that if they noticed my accent I’d be straight in the wicker man. Thankfully I spotted a wetherpoons. Straight in, straight to the shitter. WiFi, google maps, escape route planned. Got out without being burned alive by feral natives. A result in my opinion and that’s why I fill my beer guide with wetherpoons pubs.

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  19. I am honoured to have the great Herr Protz commenting on my humble blog. We are not worthy!

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  20. If that comment was from the real Roger Protz I'm a Dutchman.

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  21. I thought you were an honorary Dutchman nowadays, John ;-)

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  22. Makes no difference to me. Grips my shit when folk I'm out with mess about on their phones. Maybe my conversation is crap though.

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