Category Archives: environment

a sunrise, a mountaintop, a high speed wireless connection

Yvonne posted yesterday on the tension between technology and nature/the simple life. Or er…. Think of The Gods Must be Crazy… or just read the post.

The technology talk reminds me of Neil Postman.

Postman starts off his book Technopoly by quoting an Egyptian tale on the invention of writing and the gods’ warnings against adopting this new technology. “It will destroy knowledge,” they said. “People will stop remembering things.” (Kinda like the issue of remembering phone numbers after you got that first cell phone with speed dial.) Every technology has its ripple effects, intentional and unintentional. Even writing. (Which brings us to Burke.)

So we find ourselves in a place where we have to balance the technologies we adopt with the effects those technologies will have. The more of us that rely on electric toothbrushes, the quicker we’ll run through batteries. Which is more important to me, an electric smile or a less crowded landfill?

I’ve been thinking a lot about energy footprint lately. I drive a lot, generally 30-40 minutes going to work and sometimes over 1 hour coming back. I use a lot of gas, and beside burning up money, I’m polluting more than I’d like. I also have this cool little laptop that I use much more than I ever used my desktop computer. Generally if I’m at home, I’m on the couch with my laptop reading, blogging, or IMing. So about the only times I’m not burning electricity or gas is when I’m at church. (Since any other time spent with friends is again driving, movie, tv, game, or something else electrical.) So I’m putting pollutants into the air as I drive back and forth, and most likely my electricity’s coming from a coal furnace somewhere. And that’s just the big stuff.

Social effects of technologies are another bit of fun. Because, folks, I’m addicted to the Internet, and if you’re reading this, you probably are too.

A poll by Harris Interactive presented at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive conference showed 70% of respondents saying that they go online 7 days a week. Of that sample, 40% said they felt out of touch if they didn’t have an internet connection.

(I think these are data from the conference attendee group, though the blog numbers for this sample seem low for SxSW goers.)

I have to admit, I get pretty testy if my wireless connection goes out at home. (Just ask the customer service people at Comcast.) Between email, blogging, IM, and my now waning days of online gaming (my poor WoW toons), I feel like someone’s lopped off my knees if I don’t have a net connection or someone in front of me distracting me from my not-jacked-in-ness. (‘Course, I can’t do personal mail, blog, or IM at work, so I tend to come home with all kinds of pent up cyberneeds.)

I know some people deliberately unwire themselves every year or so. Take an unplugged vacation. No email, no internet, no computers allowed. Cut the cord and get out to nature is the typical approach. Could be fun once the DTs end.

I miss the Rocky Mountains after the snow’s melted, the southern Illinois cicadas, humid Missouri afternoons, and the mild New Hampshire summer. That’s where I used to unplug. Me and Lucille runnin’ along with the top down and Van playin’. Taking our time to get… wherever we got to. It was never really as much about where we were headed as the going. Haven’t had that in ages.

Right… writing. Need to mop this up. How about an ill explained metaphor for the win.

So with all the technologies at hand and everything I could put time into, what will I pick today? The sunrise, the mountaintop, or the high speed wireless connection? And how well am I balancing between the three?


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