Slow-tech

Hello All,

Just a quick post today. I have another, bigger, idea for a post of a more academic nature but am trying to decide exactly what I think. I’ve decided to start posting new ideas i’ve had for research and new implications for my current ideas as a way of staying in practice and perhaps entertaining all of you out there on the interwebs. Today’s offering, however, isn’t one of those posts.

I have a confession to make: I have been guilty of buying many, many internet connected devices in the past, to the extent where I am now surrounded by them. I was a screenager, I am still quite heavily connected. I had a smartphone before they were mainstream (yes I was a phone hipster before there were hipsters, making me a meta-hipster). I spent my first pay check on a playstation 2. I spent more hours than I care to remember on the internet as a school child. I feel, however, that my brain is starting to reject these tendencies. The more I live the less interesting these things seem to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love computers and I love the internet. I love the power that they give us all, the options, the delights. I am a convert. I could live without computers and the internet, but I don’t really want to. I do object to the ‘always on’ mentality that has suffused many societies in recent years, the constant drain of one’s vital forces by a persistent, low-level, need to keep checking Facebook, checking email. 

An interesting phenomenon has started to enter my life, at first against my will and then deliberately. I don’t think that it would have been possible a few years ago. I like to think of it as slow-tech. I have an iPhone and a MacBook, both of which are getting quite old. The iPhone is about five years old, the MacBook seven. The iPhone is running on a version of iOS that is too advanced, and thus runs extraordinarily slowly. The MacBook is held together with tape, and is slow. In the past this irked me, and I would have been interested in upgrading, and yet a strange thing has happened: I LOVE it! Neither of them crash since Apple products tend to age well, but they constantly defy my desire for everything-already-now.

If I want to do certain things, then I just have to wait. They get there in the end. Both devices are fully functional, both do everything I want, but both take time to do it. I like this feeling. It reminds me that the main advantage of things like email or internet communication is their asynchronicity. They don’t need to enter the world of now. Things like word processing on my laptop and making phone calls on my phone don’t tax the ailing tech too much, but all of those  persistent compulsive time wasting, attention diverting behaviours take time. I have become used to staring into the swirling multicoloured eye of eternity that replaces the MacOS cursor. Even though I find myself biting my lip at times in frustration, I generally find the experience a positive one.

Why? Because it has retrained me to use my technology differently. I was almost disappointed when I decided to buy an iPad for teaching and travelling since it works so well. Too well. But I like having a fast option should I need it. It is the most peculiar feeling, but my slow tech has forced me to switch off a little. This was something I wanted to do anyway, but I never thought that this would be why.

Where next? Honestly I don’t know, but feel that the experience has much to teach me long after these steam driven relics have gone to silicon heaven.

 

Best to you All,

James

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