I am writing this going 520 mph, 36,964 feet over Keokuk, Iowa – thanks to Virgin America’s new “wifi in every plane” system. Lucy is watching her WordWorld video, and I am… well, how about we snap a picture:
We’re on our way to New York for 6 days, the first journey that Daddo and Daughter have ever taken with just the two of us. We are both super-psyched to be on an adventure, and since this is Lucy’s 47th plane ride, she is the best traveler in the world (as long as the Cranapple juice doesn’t run out, and the crayons don’t roll to the back of the plane). We left Mommy at the airport, and it seemed like she had a week of swingin’ bachelorette livin’ to do. That, and I believe she will divert the River Alpheus to clean the Augean Stables otherwise known as our house in Venice.
The technology that allows me to sit here and do this is stunning, when you take it in context. I’ve been on the #iranelection Twitter feed most of the flight, which means that I know – even 36,964 ft. over Iowa – that somebody hacked Mousavi’s account and forged a message that said Friday’s rally was canceled, but apparently the rally is still on.
I also got a Kindle for Father’s Day, which is much cooler than I imagined. It’s one of those devices where you’re constantly thinking “um, wait a minute, I don’t have to wait two days or use gas to go somewhere – I can just use this cool muthafucka.” One of my pre-flying rituals is to get a Newsweek for take-off, and now I can just get the damn thing wirelessly without using any paper.
It does raise an interesting philosophical question (or at least it’s interesting to ME, because I’m a hopeless flailing dork with scant social skills left): every time one of these technologies is invented and adopted into mainstream use, your average consumer enters a state of “ambient addiction”. Simply put, once you’ve got your airplane wifi and your iPod, doing without them becomes vaguely painful.
Louis CK said it best on Conan: “Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy.” But there’s another byproduct of ambient addiction, which is the disappearance of the Original Item in the face of That Item’s Superior Delivery Mechanism. Physical CDs of music were replaced by hard drives, newspapers were replaced by web browsers.
The Kindle – especially future versions – will pretty much replace every book and every magazine, negating the need to ever print them again. Which is great for the world’s forests and landfills, so we could end the argument there – but here’s the kicker: you’re always at the mercy of either a motherboard or the electrical grid.
God forbid you drop the Kindle on the sidewalk, god forbid you lose your 3G connection, god forbid a squirrel chews through the electrical cable leading to your borough. Any of these things happen, and you will come rushing back to your hard, dry physical books and magazines – but they won’t be there anymore.
In a way, it makes you want to subsidize the industry in your own little way, just to keep a few physical copies around. I’ve always been technophilic to a fault, but at some point, my lapsed Mormon survivalism kicks in and demands that we have our phone, internet and television on a separate wire. I know that sounds like Admiral Adama on “Battlestar Galactica”, keeping his computers off the network and phones tethered by cable just in case the Cylons ever came back, but you know, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man can still read Newsweek.