Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Friday, September 08, 2006

All Treos go to Heaven

My Treo 650 bit the dust yesterday. Due to the nature of the warranty, the exact circumstances surrounding its demise will have to remain undisclosed. Let's just say it was working one minute, and was not working the next. Let's also conceed the fact that it involved a five-year-old talking a two-year-old into doing something that both of them deeply regretted after the fact. But you didn't hear that from me.

Now, there are precious few pieces of technology I have come to love more dearly than my Treo. I had owned an old decrepit Palm for a number of years, but never really found myself using it much. It was one more thing to lug around and keep up with, and I wasn't enough of a mobile-office warrior to really need such a thing. But once the Palm was married to a cellphone, the threshold of resistance was overcome. Now I had only one device to carry around . . . and what a device. I started making a lot more business calls on the road once I had all my contacts synched into the phone. I became a hardened Scrabble addict for eight months, once I could carry the game around in my pocket. I downloaded eBooks from Project Gutenberg and listened to audiobooks from Audible on my runs and in the car. I jotted notes for my writing. I even played old classic InfoCom interactive fiction games.

And now . . . it was dead. I felt a little quiver of personal sadness . . . my little buddy was dead. But I called Verizon to send in the phone under warranty, and was shocked when a replacement phone arrived the next day. Pop in the battery, synch up the data, and it's like nothing ever happened. Well, better than that . . . the headset jack works again, and the power button has a crisper click. My Treo is reborn!

But I have to reflect on the change in our personal relationship to technology. Once upon a time our computers were our intimate long-time friends. We gave them names. We cared for them, fixed them when they broke, learned about their peculiar foibles. But now . . . now it's all disposable. I keep a computer for slightly less time than I keep a pair of shoes. And cell phones are even more ephemeral -- I was shocked when I brought a two-year old phone into a retail store for a new battery and they looked at me like I was nuts. "That thing is ancient, man." Two years old, and it's "ancient," so much so that batteries for it are harder to find than Krull action figures.

I am not going to pine for the "good old days" when "things were made to last." I'm about one-and-a-half generations too late for that. But I do have to wonder what it will do to our psyches, when our tools and clothes and houses and toys are so transient that we have almost no connection to them at all?


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