The Acela And Declining Productivity

Fallows lauds Amtrak's move toward wi-fi on the Acela:


Thus it is with grateful surprise that I discover, in real time, that Amtrak is offering free (for now) and pretty fast Wi-Fi service on its East Coast corridor Acela trains, like the one in which I am just passing through Baltimore on the way to New York. Last time I made the DC-NY haul I took the BoltBus, as described here, precisely because of its onboard Wi-Fi. Plus, what a bargain! The Acela is pricey but has prided itself on offering a "civilized" way to go from city to city. This is a nice step -- on the whole. That is, it's a good sign for American infrastructure, and for me slightly more good than bad for peace of mind en route. Nonetheless, I will try to make this the last post I ever file from inside a moving vehicle.

Fair enough. But the one thing I loved about that ride down to D.C. and Baltimore was lack of connectivity. I tried an air card but coverage was spotty--which made me realize how much work I could actually get done when I wasn't distracted. Reading and writing is the only good thing about a cross-country flight. But it looks like they're getting wired too. I won't be publishing a book for at least another twenty years.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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