I’m currently riding on Caltrain into San Francisco. I was lucky enough to catch one of the newer split-level cars, quiet and with little work tables for laptops—complete with power outlets.
It’s been a hectic last few weeks; I haven’t even been updating Twitter that often, let alone this journal. I’m expecting to catch a breather on the contract I’ve been working on the next few days, solely because my client’s out of town. He’s demoing the web site as it exists so far and I’m expecting a high potential for panic calls, but we’ll see.
I feel like I should be taking an entirely computer-free day, but that’s hard for me to manage. On the trip to Costa Rica I realized just how accustomed I’d become to continuous connection: I was constantly thinking I should look that up on Google or Wikipedia or I should look at Google Maps to see where I am or even just it’d be nice to share this picture or quick thought right now. I started being conditioned for this back when I first got a Sidekick in 2002, and the iPhone has taken it to a whole new level, one where it’s just about second nature.
I’m dubious about the more starry-eyed and histrionic interpretations of Ray Kurzweil’s “Singularity,” but there’s truth at its core: as as keeping ourselves always on the network becomes easier, as networked computers find their way into more and more things—as it becomes second nature to many people, not just some—society’s going to change in ways that, as we go through them, are going to seem incremental and subtle but in aggregate will likely be very radical indeed. We’re already seeing a lot of that if we know where to look. I have friends who think of themselves as “old-fashioned” because they prefer to do most communication by email, and avoid chat networks. But of course, two decades ago there were very few people who had access to email, let alone the first chat networks.
These thoughts have been feeding into a new story I’m trying to write, but they’re not the focus of the story—they’re aspects of the setting. Just what the story is remains to be seen, although it’s starting to get clearer as I puzzle through things.
I also have my own web site to be trying to work on, but that may wait for another day or so, too. I may not be able to take a computer-free day, but maybe a web-development-free day is doable.
(Finished and posted at the Panera in San Francisco across from the Caltrain station.)