I went for a walk last weekend without my very clever mobile phone. It seemed odd. Yet, I’ve only had one since January 2015 – about a year. This is what I wrote then.
It was a game to see how long I could survive without owning a mobile phone. The game officially ended in November 2013 when 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.
After about 12 months, I worked out how much I spent on this little thing that didn’t do much. It was time to assess some options. But, as is usually the case with me and personal technology, it took a little push to join the 21st century.
The Christmas holidays are a time when usual routines are suspended. Madness ensues; a disorientation in which objects retain something familiar but they, and I, are now relocated and out of sync.
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 (and to be honest I have not read it thoroughly) 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 when we finally 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 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.
And then …
… did anything zip?
Ohhh, I feel very zippy at the bus stop, checking my very clever phone for the bus times rather than negotiating the crowd that stands between me and the timetable. Yes, things eventually zipped along.
Nevertheless, it is frustrating not having total control of one’s own phone. There is a suite of downloads waiting for my approval, and they aren’t getting it because I don’t use those apps. And I can’t remove those apps either! In old lingo, they are welded on.
I did download some practical information aids – Live Traffic NSW, Fires Near Me NSW, the local bus timetable, Ted Talks. I also downloaded the Huffington Post but I think I’ll dump it because I never use it. Got my ABC and my ABC Radio. And of course the WordPress app – keeping tabs on what’s happening in this blogging world I’m in.
First there was a game called Abstraction. This isn’t an app. It’s a proper real-world game. Turn the camera on. Position a finger just over/near the shutter button. Hold the camera by your side. Start walking. Snap a photo whenever you fancy.
Tucked in amid the rubbish will be some amazing images that just pop.
The second game was a little more deliberate. It’s not intended to be arty. It’s supposed to develop a bit of cognitive wellbeing and help stave off the decline of age. Every day I must find one image, something worth photographing, something that grabs my attention. The game is called Everyday.
So, what triggered this look back?
I dropped my mobile phone. I regularly drop my mobile phone. It’s very mobile. It just slips out of my hand. The phone has bounced out of its case; the battery has bounced out of its slot; it has survived some terrible falls.
Last weekend, it fell out of one hand and into the bucket of water I was carrying in the other. How? How did I get into a position where that would be possible?
Had I been a little more awake (it was just after an afternoon nap) I might have managed to move the bucket in time. Thankfully, retrieval was quick. Yet, it was the longest of times. It was one of those slow motion moments that wasn’t worth a slow motion moment. Hardly tragic. But there it was, gracefully falling, the white cover spreading like a single wing, disrupting the surface tension, starkly contrasting with the bright red of the container …
Retrieved and dripping …
It spent the night in a tub of rice. Works fine.
So, what’s next?
New cover. Something practical rather than graceful?