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(Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)
(Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)

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Jeanne Beker on Internet usage Add to ...

Jeanne Beker is host of CTV's FashionTelevision and author of Strutting It! The Grit Behind the Glamour.

Can you tell me what country spends the most time online?

What? Is this a quiz?

Yes. There is no prize.

Canada? We're so isolated.

According to a recent poll, yes. Canadians are online more than any other nation. Does that surprise you?

No. Canadians will always see the forest for the trees. I don't think we're caught up in the hype. We've got more of a contemplative nature. We are great - and this is going to sound negative because no one wants to be a fence-sitter - we have that ability to sit on the fence and observe. We have that ability to sit back and observe and absorb. In the great scheme of things, we don't feel we're in the eye of the storm often, so it's important to glean as much information as we can about the storm.

What is your own presence online?

All the stories I write for The Globe go online. We've got FashionTelevision.com, a pretty good going concern. I'm in the process of developing my own site called Jeannespace.com. I'm pitching right now to get involved in a co-production with CTV/Bell where we can actually produce programming for online that can be repurposed for conventional television. There is a Facebook page that is tended to by my people at FashionTelevision.

Are these sites all linked up? Is it your concern that they all link and feed off one another?

No. I don't know. I just put it out there. I don't have time.

Is your life better for all this?

Yeah. It makes me feel better. I'm privy to a lot of fabulous stuff that I don't always have an outlet for when I'm out in the field. I find Twitter just perfect. If I am doing something interesting, I feel compelled to share it. In previous days, I would be writing big long journals. I don't do that any more.

How often are you online? Every day?

Oh, yeah. Ninety per cent of the time I check in online, whether I'm researching - what a fantastic source for researching - checking out pictures, going on Twitter, reading the news. I'm on it a lot. It's a large part of my life.

In the early eighties, I interviewed Timothy Leary for The New Music. I said "Dr. Leary, what do you see in your crystal ball for us in the future?" He said in the future were all going to have to get really friendly with our computers. I thought, "Friendly with a computer! What could be more sickening than that? That sounds like nerd time." Now I'm joined at the hip to my computer.

How many hours would you be online daily? Are you helping maintain Canada's pre-eminent position in Internet usage?

Maybe two hours. It depends. One day I'll be working on a story and be on for six. Or tying to research material and be on it quite a bit.

How much is too much?

It's too much when I feel like I don't want to do this any more. When it starts boring me, or I realize I'm not getting anything done. It's easy to waste time. One thing leads to another and you want to find out more and more.

Do you use 'Google' as verb?

Yeah! Absolutely! Google is my home page.

Do you ever take a break from the Internet? A retreat? A cleanse?

No. No. I can't. It's part of my life. Its part of what I do.

Well, it's become part of your life. Is that immutable?

I've been tweeting so much on my Blackberry I'm starting to get carpal tunnel syndrome. I think it's an occupational hazard, like sore feet. I've got to wear stilettos for my job.

Everyone is always asking me, how do I do so much? It's because I've got that luxury, that magical key to this whole universe. I have several computers. A laptop, my home computer, an iPad and one of those small notebook computers for travelling. I love the luxury of reading a book, the tactile quality of that, but in terms of information at your fingertips, literally, there's nothing like it. I would be in denial of where we are at this time in society if I was going to ignore the incredible resources that are available to us online.

 

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