Upon my arrival in Dublin, I noticed that free wifi was accessible practically everywhere. It was utilized in the airport (the Atlanta airport only supported hourly paid wifi), on buses, trains, all restaurants and stores, Dublin even had free wifi hotspots in various locations throughout the city. This fact alone shows that Ireland is becoming increasingly dependent upon the internet for daily tasks from online banking and bill pay to social media. The Dublin City Council established the free wifi project in 2006 largely due to the increasingly high numbers of smartphone users and as an attractive asset to potential tourists.
Although the use of smartphones and internet technology in Dublin has increased astonishingly over the last several years, I have noticed that the Irish do not use this technology in quite the same way as Americans do. A large percentage of the population, particularly those under the age of 32, use at least one social media outlet. However, the Irish mostly utilize social media for personal usage, very few business’s have adopted social media as a marketing tool (although nearly all business’s have a website). In addition, the Irish tend to still rely heavily on newspapers, news channels and other print sources as their regular news outlet. I also noticed the prevalent number of bookstores in the area; I spoke with a local book shop owner in Dun Laoghaire about his opinion on the preference of books (print vs. digital). He informed me that many Irish residents still buy hard copy books, and that he was aware of very few people who preferred or utilized digital reading platforms (as becoming increasingly popular in the U.S.). I also interviewed Dublin Institute of Technology professor Tom Flanagan about his views on the use of social media and other forms of communication technology in Ireland. He described the Irish use of social media as a strictly personal endeavor and it was not until the advent and popularization of LinkedIn, did the Irish community utilize this kind of communication technology for business use at all.