Offline Equivalents to Online Tools and Services

The Internet is everywhere, except that it’s really not. There are going to be circumstances where you won’t have that pervasive access to the web and, if you’re anything like me, you may start to feel at a loss. It’s like suddenly being without a limb. Thankfully, there are offline equivalents or suitable alternatives to some of your favorite online tools.

Sure, you could say that snail mail is an offline equivalent to e-mail and shouting outside of your balcony is equivealent to Twitter, but that’s not entirely fair. At the same time, just because I’m saying that these are suitable offline equivalents does not mean that they are going to bring you back to the age of using a stone club to acquire your supper.

Let’s have a look.

Instead of WordPress…

I blog six times a week here on Beyond the Rhetoric, but I don’t necessarily do all of that from an “online” standpoint. In the case of my trip in Australia, for instance, my Internet access has not been nearly as omnipresent as it is back home. At the same time, I wanted to be able to maintain my same blogging schedule.

So while I still need access to the web to finally publish my posts, I don’t need to compose them there. For that, I use Notepad on my Windows-based laptop. It’s simple, keeps the text simple, and encourages me to stay focused on the text itself. I could use other word processors, but they sometimes insert superfluous characters or ones that don’t play nice with raw HTML.

Instead of Google Maps…

To figure out how to get to where I need to go, I usually do my pre-research with Google Maps on my computer. There is also the Google Maps app for my smartphone. However, neither of these store the actual map information locally, so you need ongoing access to the Internet to use them at all.

And that’s why I turn to my trusty Garmin GPS device. It already has the maps and doesn’t need web access to look for points of interest or point me in the right direction. When I rented (“hired”) a car here in Australia, I also reserved a temporary GPS device to go with the vehicle. Without it, there is a very good chance I would’ve gotten lost.

Instead of TripAdvisor…

Continuing with the theme of travel, particularly in foreign countries, I make fair use of sites like TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon and so on to get suitable advice about what to do, where to say, where to eat, and so forth. Again, these useful online communities need online access.

No, they may not be quite as crowd-sourced and may not be quite as current, but regular book-based travel guides can be infinitely useful in this regard. Examples include the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide series, both of which are typically available from your local public library. I have a couple of these with me on my Australia trip.

I Still Want the Internet

Is it an addiction? Perhaps. This is much the same kind of argument as saying that I am addicted to watching high-def television, driving around town, or having a mobile phone. These are all integral parts of my modern lifestyle and the Internet is perhaps even more powerful in that regard. Even so, we all need to find ways to survive and maintain our ways of life without the web, even if only in the short term.

You may not always have Google Docs at your fingertips (Google Gears can help), but you can have similar functionality with something like OpenOffice if you don’t want to buy Microsoft Office. You may not always have Google News, but you do have regular newspapers and 24 hour news networks. There are options.