The IT Party Season is in full swing, and across this great capital city of ours the journos roam, increasingly unsteadily, from party to party. We have our secret resources, our hidden Web sites where we put details of each and every party: today, I'm going armed with a list of five. The first one, for Mercator, goes well: too well, as having to cope with silly drinking games involving huge blocks of ice and peach vodka leaves one dangerously unable to cope with four more of the same.
So, we bail out early and head off to party number two. Things are looking good.
We're within sight of the next venue when the mobile rings. One of my very best friends has been rushed into hospital with a sub-arachnoid aneurysm. It sounds horrible: it is horrible, but by the time I get to the place it's way past visiting time and I have to go home.
As anyone who's been there knows, one of the worst parts of having someone you love be very sick is the fearful sense of helplessness. There's also the business of telling friends and passing the message on. What better way to cope with both than to crack open the laptop and set up a mailing list? By the end of the evening, I'd done a first report -- together with what I could find out about the situation from the Net -- and got it out to everyone I knew who, I thought, would want to know.
Of course, friends know friends. The report got forwarded along, and within the next day people all over the planet knew what was going on: it didn't matter if they were stuck halfway up Everest, there was a cybercafe nearby.
Messages went the other way, too: visiting time started to involve a sheaf of A4 full of good wishes.
Those who think the Internet has in some way failed because of the dot-com crash, or that it's going to prove a gimmick like skateboarding or hula-hoops, are missing the point entirely. A technology that can do so much good at some of the hardest times of our lives will survive and prosper, and deservedly so.
And the friend? Not out of the woods yet, but the reports are starting to have much more good news than bad. Which is exactly as it should be.