Getting a smartphone has made me realize how little I want to stay in touch with the rest of the world.
One of the first things I did, after figuring out the 3G, was to sync my various webmail accounts with my Blackberry inbox. I undid this step less than 12 hours later, since it meant that every time I got an e-mail message, Twitter reply or Facebook update, my phone would vibrate. And while you shouldn’t stop “Like”ing my off-the-cuff observations about The Walking Dead, I need some peace. So I started separating things out into folders, toggling different notification settings, and changing how my phone activated. All better.
I got to thinking about the generational limits of technology. I am just barely capable of diagnosing why my laptop can’t access a wireless network and solving the problem myself. I can tell when the problem with an Internet connection is with my desktop, with my modem or with the network itself. And I can fix the notification settings on Facebook so it doesn’t ping my phone. But we’re heading toward an age where I don’t need to know that any more. I activated my iPod by plugging the USB port into a computer and clicking the glossy blue buttons that popped up on the screen. When I got Angry Birds or Google Docs, I didn’t need to download drivers or input copy protection keys: I just clicked a link, waited for a green bar to fill up, and started working.
Wired has talked, in that provocative way they have, about the death of the web: how opening up a browser and manually typing words into an address bar is on its way out. Apple and Google have made their bones by delivering online content in colorful little packages – what we call “apps” – each of which does one thing really well. For mobile consumers, like 90% of the First World, this is great. For engineers, this is immensely frustrating. For me – someone who learned how to manually reset IP addresses and use Secure Shell but has no other coding ability – it’s weird. Like getting a pair of 3D glasses with only one lens.
P.S. Mobile cameras keep getting better and better. Below is a picture I took in Downtown Wine and Spirits in Somerville on Friday night: