Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Dark Side of Tech

Being a people watcher, I can tell a lot about a person by the things they do, the manner in which they do them, and the devices they carry with them. In my writing I've tried to keep the material things associated with my characters to a minimum making them something of their own metaphor if an item plays a part in the story beyond being a footnote. This perception has made me think harder about my RPG and the gear system within and my own real world perception of how people equip themselves.

There are a limited number of places that regular people tend to bring or carry tech with them. Generally these places have books (a library), coffee (Moxie Java, etc) or both (Barnes and Noble). Airports and college campuses are also good places to observe people using tech, but these scenarios generally have folks carrying tech for a purpose rather than as a component of their persona.

Technology is an invasive part of our culture spreading out from each individual like rings of single trees in a larger societal forest. At most I carry a camera, dumb phone, iPod Touch, and a Macbook Pro when I'm wandering about doing whatever it is I happen to be doing. That's four devices. My brothers probably carry something in that same range while my wife and parents carry at least 1-2 devices wherever they go.

Last night I typed out all my notes and outlines one-handed on my iPod touch, synced them with my mail client, and woke the next day and immediately began working. The ease at which I'm able to record my ideas thanks to the devices I employ means a greater realm of productivity. It also means that I rarely rest. Even sitting with my friends at Perkins or Moxie gets interrupted with the powerful urge to record a thought or idea quickly to the ever seductive digital medium.

Yeah, I like the idea of making the circle of laptops, sharing a pizza and bandwidth with my friends. However, tech can ruin as many meaningful social situations as it can enhance. My own desire to take notes with my iPod Touch I'm sure makes interacting with me awkward at times and when I get an iPad it'll be worse. That my social life will likely be put to death by a device with an instant-on feature and multi-touch interface is its own irony. I just have to hope the people that really know me won't take it personally that I have such compulsions.


  1. Hey, once a good idea goes out the's really hard to get it back! I don't blame you for wanting to document a thought or idea before it tries to slip away. :)