In November 2013, Mum and I were to spend a few days driving around Victoria. Neither of us had a mobile phone. So I bought a little thing that could cope with sending and receiving calls, providing I pre-paid in time, which sometimes I didn’t. The game to see how long I could survive without owning a mobile phone officially ended.
A few years later, after working out how much I spent per month on this little thing that didn’t do much, I decided it was time to assess some options. But, as is usually the case with me and technology, it took a little push to join the 21st century.
It was the Christmas holidays, when normal routines are suspended. Madness ensues; a disorientation in which objects retain something familiar but they, and I, are now relocated and out of sync.
Even so, or because of this departure from normality, I very much enjoyed sleeping in the caravan down the back paddock of my sister’s mother-in-law’s small acreage. Every other day, I would walk the perimeter in the cool of the early morning. On one of those days, I lost my phone.
As you might expect, we looked everywhere and in everything. I declined the offer to ring the number as it’s often not on. Of course, it could have been on but that didn’t occur to me. 24 hours later, I organised for the number to be suspended. Another 24 hours later, I picked up my jacket and wondered why it felt heavier than expected. And then wondered when I had worn it, and why had I put the phone in its pocket! I’m still not sure. Perhaps it was on one of those cool early mornings, temporarily, until I realised it wasn’t that cold?
I now HAD to act. I could organise for the number to be reinstated, or I could organise for it to be transferred to a new phone.
One Samsung Galaxy Note Edge later and the 21st century beckons.
Technology and Liveability
An economics textbook that I’ve not read thoroughly has nevertheless introduced me to the concept of “General Purpose Technology”, which I think means technologies that have a broad reach and result in wide-ranging change. The steam engine and the computer are two examples. The book goes on to say that the arrival of a new General Purpose Technology triggers a degree of unevenness, there’s a bit of a slowdown, productivity drops, and then things get a zip along once we get the hang of it.
For most people, upgrading their phone is an incremental change. The amount of time spent learning how to make the most of the new features is relatively minimal when compared with the first foray into a brand new technology. I am foraying. In my world, my new phone is another example of General Purpose Technology and I’m wondering where the broad reach and wide-ranging change will first impact.
Actually, the first impact was the camera. So, now I’m wondering where the second impact will be.
The important thing for me to remember today, tomorrow and even next week is that technology can give things a zip along … in time … eventually … and then it could get very, very interesting.
Helpman, E. 2004. The mystery of economic growth. Published by The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.