The Wall Street Journal’s Erica Alini reports that tough economic times are putting the squeeze on laptop users who make their local coffee shop a preferred workspace:
[I]n a growing number of small coffee shops, firm restrictions on laptop use have been imposed and electric outlets have been locked. The laptop backlash may predate the recession, but the recession clearly has accelerated it.
In response, Jay Hathaway, of The Download Squad asks “Are coffee shops really cutting off laptop users?” An overwhelming percentage of the respondents to Hathaway’s poll say “No.” Perhaps the WSJ article is much ado about nothing.
Still, it’s worth considering the economic impact of the habits that such apparently rare policies are meant to forbid. It’s a question that those of us who live and work in college towns should be especially concerned with.
College towns are known for their coffee shops, and many independent coffee shops have thrived mostly because of their proximity to a higher ed campus. However, what happens to the bottom line if all the seats are filled with customers less interested in spending money than in finding convenient Internet access and a break from the library or office? You may not think twice about the impact of your actions on a seemingly faceless corporate-owned business, but how do you feel about supporting–or not–the locally-owned, independent places that are an integral part of your campus community?
Is it unethical to take advantage of free wifi for hours at a time without buying more than–say–a $4 latte?