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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What's in My Book Bag: The High Tech Edition


Every so often I do an essay on the contents of my book bag.  I recently dumped my bike messenger bag in favor of a briefcase.  I can’t find a good bike bag over here. I think they just went out of style and no one makes them anymore. I wish that I could design and make my own bag as none of the shoulder packs I have had were quite what I wanted; close but no cigar, as they say. I haven’t looked back on other posts about what’s in my bag but I’d guess that the contents these days have a lot more wires and batteries involved than in the past.

In my briefcase the on this occasion I am carrying a netbook computer, an external hard drive, two pen drives, and MP3 player, a digital camera, and a cell phone.  As a wrist watch I’m wearing my heart rate monitor which has about 25 functions.  If James Bond from any time before about 2009 walked around with a load of gear like this, movie audiences would have been dumbstruck by the technology. I’m definitely not a secret agent; I’m just an average dork who needs to clean out his briefcase or get a smaller one that doesn’t hold so much shit. I wouldn’t even consider myself a tech person, not at all. That just seems to be the way that life is going these days. I don’t know where this is all leading us but I suppose I could be prodded into making a few guesses.

I suppose one upside to the ubiquitous nature of modern technology is that people can’t argue a completely fallacious point in drunken bar discussions.  If someone tries to tell you that Germany won the World Cup in 2010 you can look this up on your cell phone and show it in their face to shut them up.

I certainly am not a cell phone geek but then again I don’t really need a cell phone much as do many people for their work. I barely even talk on mine and only use it to send and receive text messages. I don’t see why people find their phones to be so fascinating that they will sit and mess with them constantly instead of taking out a book and reading. I forgot to mention that I also have at least one book in my briefcase

Another downside is that almost all of this technology is highly consumable, which is good for producers but pretty shitty for the environment. People swap out their cell phones like they change their underwear these days. Computers don’t have much of a lifespan and digital camera technology changes practically daily.  I’d bet that everyone reading this has a closet full of tech garbage.

For as obsessed as we are about phones these days I almost never talk on mine. I don’t know if this is a Spanish thing as many people here have rather expensive plans and thus don’t chat on the phone. It’s mostly about text messages. I hate talking on the phone and would much rather conduct any sort of business via emails.  Phones have become more of a homing device than a means for personal communication.  They are great for finding someone in a crowd or knowing whether or not someone is home but few people I know use them for actually talking to someone.

Digital photography has turned all of us into half-way decent photographers, which I suppose isn’t a bad thing. I saw a video of a scientist who was photographing the life of his family inside his house. He had captured every relevant moment in the life of his young son: his first words, his first steps, etc. Besides being horrifically boring to anyone but the author of the experiment and his immediate family I found it to be kind of creepy. I don’t think that I would like to have photographic evidence of my entire life. What kind of life will/would that be when humans have a photographic supplement to their memories? I’m not sure it’s healthy to be any more self-absorbed than we already are. And how would you like it if everyone on the planet could see when you took your first step?  As I said, it gives me the creeps.

Not a day passes that I don’t do at least a bit of reading. I have had phases in my life when I have read a lot more than I do now.  All of the shit in my briefcase certainly works as a distraction to keep me from the other thing I put in there, a book.   

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