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Saturday, March 3, 2012

iPhone: Computer in My Pocket

Two weeks ago, I (finally) bought an iPhone 4S. I had been debating whether to buy one for a long time. For someone who writes a blog on technology, I felt almost as though I was some kind of anachronism. How could I not have a Smart Phone? Many of my friends have had one for years.  I was still on my plain-vanilla cellphone which, in addition to making calls could even send text messages using a little keyboard! Ooooh.

So why so long?  Well, I didn't want to be one of those people who whips their iPhone out walking down the street or while they are sitting in a darkened movie theater or while they are at the dinner table. I am all for connectivity but is it necessary to check your email or text messages every ten minutes?  The answer, I think, depends on your age. If you are a twenty-something, your life revolves around social networking. The expectation is that you are always online. Your friends want immediate responses. If you happen to be a little older, the fact that you can email someone when you get back to your home computer seems like connecting at light speed compared to growing up with snail mail. For the most part, my friends are not hanging out on line waiting for instant responses on where to meet up for tonight's social event.  Social networking with yourself isn't very much fun.

I have also learned that most of my email is, well... , boring. I have signed too many email political petitions and now my mailbox is filled mainly with the seemingly-urgent Rant-of-the-Day from one action group or another. I am suffering from Rant Fatigue and mostly hit the Delete button. Having removed the political email, I next winnow out the Groupons and Living Social coupons. Most days, I don't need a Brazilian or a facial so those go in the trash. What's left is an all too meager number of real emails. So, I didn't get an iPhone to check my emails and text messages.

Why did I get the iPhone? I wanted a mobile Information Appliance. I wanted to be able to look up locations on Google Maps. I wanted to find a good restaurant with Yelp. I wanted to know the answer to some question using Wikipedia. I wanted to check movie reviews on IMDB. I want to know if it's going to rain in the next 30 minutes. Could I have done without any of those functions? Sure. I have done without them so far. But the ability to have a computer in my pocket (for that is what a Smart Phone is) gives me an odd sense of freedom. I can navigate through my day a little better. I can find the answers to questions I will surely forget to look up by the time I get home (senior moments).  I feel...I admit it... hip.

I worried that I would become a slave to my new iPhone but, so far, I have surprised myself at how infrequently I check my emails (maybe for all the reasons I already mentioned).  My iPhone just nestles down in my pocket ready to give me answers when I ask. Oh, did I mention Siri?  This little artificial intelligence gnome is someone I want to get to know better.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to check my iPhone. I want to know...

1 comment:

William McPherson said...

Who cannot identify with this? Or maybe you have to remember that once people wrote letters that arrived in your mail box, which was a solid object or a slot in the door or a box on a post, not a vaporous virtual concept in cyberspace. Is this constant connectivity, this continuous social networking that demands immediate response, is this a good thing? Well, that's a long debate that I'm not prepared to get into here, but the short answer is that it's good and it's bad—like lots of other things.

Rant Fatigue is a common ailment. There are more worthysan causes, more petitions to sign, etc., etc., than a person can deal with. In an attempt to keep my own I'm busily unsubscribing from all sorts of e-mail lists whose causes I support. I feel guilty about that, of course, but I'm learning to deal with it.