i’m nothing without my wifi bluetooth sunglass viewer dock

6/18/09

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:

IanLucyPlane6-18-09.jpg

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.

0 thoughts on “i’m nothing without my wifi bluetooth sunglass viewer dock

  1. Kevin In Philadelphia

    I for one enjoy the first time sitting down with a new book, preferably hardback. That first *crack* of the spine, the smell of the paper, lightly licking the thumb to progress to the next page…no kindle will ever replace those sensory experiences. As you are a technophile, I am a bibliophile. All I wanted growing up was a home library like Bruce Wayne had in the 1960s Batman series – a button under William Shakespeare’s head that reveals the secret entrance to the Batcave would be a nice touch, but is not required. At 28 I am working my way to a nice collection of hardback books, and have begun frequenting antique book shops to find some interesting first editions. A good book read by candle light beats agonizing over when the work crew will restore power in a thunderstorm any day of the week.

    Reply
  2. LFMD

    I remember the first time I heard about the Shuffle was on your blog. I bought one, liked it, later got an iPod for Xmas, LOVED it, started subscribing to podcasts and was IN HEAVEN.
    Sometimes I worry because I am too addicted to my iPod. I listen to it while I work in my cubicle, drive, work out, do laundry, shop. . . the earbuds are perpetually hooked to my head. It is as if I have no tolerance for boredom or quiet time anymore.
    I am planning to get an iPhone next month when my current cell contract expires. My husband jokes that when I get my iPhone, I may never talk with my family again because I will be so hooked. I am hardly a technophile, but if I can get so hooked, anyone can.

    Reply
  3. Hamp

    Chris gave me a kindle for v-day. I wasn’t sure I’d like it but now am addicted. The instant gratification that comes with it was an unanticipated pleasure and spoils you very quickly, as well as the ability to read the first few chapters of anything before you buy. Just don’t break a snow globe of the NYC skyline on top of it. The glycerin-glitter water fries it pretty quickly and then you have to get it fixed or replaced which costs as much as buying a new one. I was lucky and they screwed up my replacement and gave me a full refund for the for the broken one – some sort of technical glitch I didn’t notify Amazon of. One more thing to burn in hell over.

    Reply
  4. Ehren

    The bibliophages are more entrenched but making the same noises that the waxheads were when first the cd and then more radically, the mp3 came onto the scene. “I love the warmth of the sound of a vinyl record being played by a needle, and the big beautiful square of album art, the weight and heft of the actual 10” disk in your hand. And books will follow the same course. Rapid adoption for most uses, which will revolutionize the way we consume and share information, with an especial benefit to being able to search the text of all human knowledge without having to rely on experts. But actual books will still have a niche, as vinyl still does. In fact, vinyl records have almost doubled in sales in the last year alone, with Best Buy the biggest chain deciding to start stocking it, even as they cut their shelf space for cds.
    But you won’t want junk mysteries, self-help books, Newsweek, the latest current events expose or the like on your bat cave shelves. These are disposable, and it will be great when you don’t actually have to dispose of them without disposing of a few trees as well. You can still collect your first editions, or put on your smoking jacket and chuckle to yourself while reading an E.L. Doctorow novel in the leatherbound 30th anniversary edition. It’s just that these will be handcrafted aesthetic experiences, and not the primary channel.

    Reply
  5. Rebecca

    Damn. Comparing your wife to Hercules is just pure genius.
    I have only seen a Kindle from afar, and I’m a little afraid of it. I really don’t need another addiction! However, I’m sure someday I will get one, and then will wonder how I ever survived without it. I love the idea of not using paper, but will the instant gratification buying power cost me too much every month? Hmmmm….

    Reply
  6. xuxE

    my mom just recently had a cornea transplant and once she is all healed i’ve been planning to give her a Kindle to celebrate. and the whole thing together does have a really futuristic feel to it, almost like a new bionic book to go with a new bionic eye.
    i love electronic delivery of all things, but i have to admit i do love browsing and i will kind of miss that. the kids love the ritual weekly trip to barnes and noble and we have a public library on the end of our street. the idea that someday i wouldn’t be able to go lazily poking around and window shopping for books would definitely make me sad.

    Reply
  7. Bob

    I love my dead-tree books–I have a house full of them–but I also love my Kindle. One of the best Kindle features, one that doesn’t get much play in the press, is the ability to download a sample of any book for sale. I’d say that I buy about 30% of the books I sample.
    Conventional book readers, rest easy: it’s going to be a while, if ever, before e-books take over. But they sure are nifty.

    Reply
  8. Anne

    Each time we’ve lost electricity in a storm, I have been overwhelmed at realizing how our lives absolutely depend on it today. NOTHING really works without a source of electrical power. Cell phones would work for a while, but once the battery runs out, we need the plug-in charger.
    At her tender age, your Lulubeans has already flown more than twice the number of times I (age 57) have. She appears to be a relaxed and happy traveler.

    Reply
  9. Tanya

    Speaking from behind the scenes of the Big Mean Utility Company, we stand ready to keep you muthafuckas connected.
    Kindles, iPods, iPhones, email, blackberries, whatever. Plug it in.

    Reply

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