Digital Moving Sure Has Changed - InformationWeek

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IoT
IoT
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
10/8/2009
06:51 PM
Michael Hickins
Michael Hickins
Commentary
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Digital Moving Sure Has Changed

How much has changed online in the past three years? My family and I just moved to a new apartment, and much of the move was facilitated by aspects of our digital lives that either didn't exist or weren't ubiquitous enough three years ago to have made a difference.

How much has changed online in the past three years? My family and I just moved to a new apartment, and much of the move was facilitated by aspects of our digital lives that either didn't exist or weren't ubiquitous enough three years ago to have made a difference.For the obvious, every apartment we looked at we discovered through Craigslist. The same could have been true three years ago, except that three years ago there wasn't nearly as much inventory, and the inventory usually didn't include pictures.

One apartment an agent took us to see had just come on the market, and as we were leaving, another agent walked in with a digital camera. Photos of the apartment were on his ad within an hour -- credit the ubiquity of MMS.

Hard as it is to believe, Google Street View didn't exist when we moved in September of 2006, so we couldn't scope out the area we were thinking of renting in without actually going there. Not that you'd decide to live somewhere based on a bird's eye view of the block, but it could save you a trip if you noticed something like a waste treatment plant across the street.

Something else we couldn't have done as easily three years ago was find a mover. This time, we were able to narrow down our choices using Yelp, and then built our own estimates of how much the move would cost using an online application most movers make available as an alternative to making an appointment and coming to your house.

We also checked with Uhaul, and while their site actually allows you to make reservations now (not so three years ago), you still can't cancel or adjust your reservation online. You have to call an 800-number (which doesn't answer outside business hours!).

Finally, the Post Office, our bank, and all my credit card providers allowed me to inform them of my change of address online -- in fact, it was almost alarmingly easy. Maybe the New York DMV is onto something, because it doesn't allow you to change your address online.

There is one downside to searching for goods and services online these days, however, and that's the proliferation of review sites that pop up in search results regardless of whether they have anything to offer. I can't tell you the number of times I clicked on a link only to find a comment form and an invitation to "be the first to submit a comment."

Here's a comment to the attention of Google and Bing engineers: user generated content isn't really user generated content unless there's at least one relevant review.

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