In 2001, sleepy Bury St. Edmunds, England received an interesting gift, ultimately from Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. In the Abbey Garden, the town’s centerpiece, is what the locals claim to be the world’s first internet-enabled bench. Sponsored by MSN.co.uk, the seat contains jacks for internet cables and is said to provide direct access to the web. Unfortunately, the development has been rendered irrelevant already, thanks to the ubiquity of wireless internet access in Europe and around the world. Since I no longer travel with an arm’s length of Category 5 cable, I don’t know if the access from the bench works … though tour guide Anthony Mitchell referred to its functionality in the present tense.
Today, two cultures coexist comfortably in the Abbey Garden. The latest generation bench sits amid ruins from more than half a millennium ago. I guess there are worst settings for checking your Twitter feed!
Disclosure: Visit Britain shelled out some cash for this experience, and British Airways supplied the flights. I do wonder, though, if they would have liked me to write about anything else from the four hours I spent in St. Edmundsbury. We spent about five minutes at the bench, after all.