Invention and Necessity

 

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Published in: on November 7, 2009 at 3:30 pm  Comments (15)  
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  1. I have the cheapest, gizmo-free cell phones available, both U.S. and Panamanian models, and I NEVER text.

    On the other hand, I LOVE my iPod. It’s filled with music I love. I subscribe to Audible.com and have downloaded some really good books.

    I’ve listened my way through 80 hours of Ken Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth” and “World Without End” while slowly walking my old dog, Penny, around the block in the late afternoons. I’m halfway through Peter Matthiesen’s “Shadow Country” and the narrator, Anthony Heald is wonderful. Every once in a while I go back and replay Charles Kuralt’s book about the year he spent travelling back to his favorite places after his retirement just to hear his voice again.

    I’ve even got a gizmo that plugs into the cigarette lighter of the car that you slip the iPod into so you can listen to the books while on the road instead of listening to inane right-wing talk radio and are out of range of NPR stations. Next to my computer I love my iPod more than most of the things I own.

    oldsalt,

    Isn’t it wonderful and amazing how some voices embed themselves in our memory? You say, “Charles Kuralt”, and I hear him, immediately.

    Your use of your ipod for audio books is perfect. I’ve always preferred reading books to listening to them, but I certainly can understand the appeal. I’ve never heard of Audible.com, but I’ll be checking it out, and it may be a great suggestion for others who come by.

    I do feel an iPod or other such player lurking just over the horizon. I took the step of pulling the plug on my cable tv, and nearly have adjusted to life without that blathering. The money saved will cover an increase in another expense AND leave enough extra for the iPod. As much as I love music, I suppose it’s time to make the move.

    You will appreciate this – back in the day, when tape players were the thing, I learned Morse code for my HAM license by listening while I sanded and varnished. It was an interesting experience – there was no “thought” required, exactly. Just hearing it, over and over, seemed to embed it in consciousness. I wonder now if books are more memorable when heard – that possibility never had crossed my mind.

    Linda

  2. As usual, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

    Recently I watched a TED video (using my Ipod) that featured the anthropologist, Stefana Broadbent. She spoke to many of the issues you described. However, her studies find people are using the new technologies–email, Facebook, Twitter etc., while at work, to keep in touch with friends and family. She points out that 80 per cent of these contacts are to the same 4 or 5 people.

    She also points out that it has only been around 150 years that people have been leaving home each day to go to work or school, shutting themselves in classrooms and offices away from their family and close friends. The new means of communication and the ways they are being used suggest a kind of return to those earlier pre-industrial rhythms–a breaking away from the authoritarian hold of the employer and schools. Broadbent says a person may have hundreds of Facebook friends, but the research shows they typically communicate with only a handful. So there may be some hope in all this, but I’m not too optimistic.

    Your term and description of the cyber-orgy is perfect. We are overwhelmed with disconnected, decontextualized information and so electronically connected that we are actually becoming virtual beings–beings that know less and less of that which is personally meaningful, significant and fulfilling. Recent events such as, Fort Hood, Orlando, Cleveland and the craziness of the so-called health care discussion all suggest that as a people we have lost our way.

    Mike,

    In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit I was listening to a live CSPAN internet stream of the House vote on health care last night, while following the trending topic “Stupak” on Twitter. That only points to how significantly things are changing – and I’m sure there are nervous television network executives because of it.

    I watched Broadbent’s video and read some critiques. The facts are interesting, but I question two things: whether she might be romanticizing the pre-Industrial Revolution period, and whether it is “intimacy” which is being fostered by increased contact. For example, in many of today’s pre-Industrial societies (including Liberia) it’s considered normal for farmers and/or hunters to “leave home” for work. The men and women may come and go on a daily basis, or leave for more extended periods of time, but leave they do.

    So many analyses of these tech issues tend toward narrowness and cultural bias. Reading about the Kindle, I found well educated people advocating for an end to print and a movement into a world where books would be “screened” rather than read. Some went so far as to predict that within ten years, publishing houses would dramatically reduce their production of “print products”.

    Fine. What about the rest of the world, where the struggle is for literacy and used books with ratty covers and missing pages are treasured like gold?
    Even when technical issues are solved (You’re not going to get much use out of a Kindle where there’s no electricity to recharge the battery) context is critical. You simply can’t plop a Kindle into a culture that’s struggling toward literacy and basic development and say, “Go for it”. I’ve been in places where people were terrified of light bulbs. That doesn’t mean they’re stupid or crazy – it means that our worlds are complex entities and change has to account for a lot more than the technical issues. Despite the internal wrangling and suspicions about its motives, the One Laptop per Child program seems to be a move in the right direction.

    If I had to point to one thing about all this techie stuff that bothers me, it might be that our computers, iPods, Blackberries and such help to reinforce the notion that we’re the superior ones here, and the poor, benighted low-tech sorts can be ignored. Even in our own society, the admonition to “go to `www.whatever.com`” assumes the willingness and ability to access computers. It wouldn’t hurt to question that assumption now and then.

    Thanks for stopping by – good to see you again!

    Linda

  3. I wonder if Google will try to muscle in on that guy’s ad business. :)

    But seriously, soon there won’t be anyone around who remembers what it was like to ride on a city bus or commuter train without having to endure at least one self-important twit barking into a cellphone. It’s the main reason my wife drives to work now instead of taking the train.

    Ian,

    You know Google has to have taken a look – he’s gotten too much publicity for them to miss him.

    It amazes me so many folks haven’t figured out yet that the days of cell phone as status symbol are over. When eight-year-olds are running around with My Little Pony phones tucked in their backpacks, texting their friends to see if they want to do peanut-butter-and-jelly lunches, carrying on loud conversations while buying bananas or riding the train just doesn’t have the panache it used to.

    That’s one plus for twitter. At least if self-important twits are tweeting, it keeps the noise level down ;-)

    Linda

  4. Ohhh I love the blackboard media center. That was a perfect end to this piece, yay!

    I’ve been “reading” the New Yorker since I was in high school and would go to the library at lunch, sit down, and leaf through looking at the beautiful unaffordables in ads and try to understand the cartoons. I also read the poems then, though I didn’t understand them. Since getting married I’ve phased in and out of New Yorker subscriptions – always waiting until I could get a deal – never more than $39 or $49 for the year. Always, I phase out of reading – due to lack of time or priority – and the weekly issues pile up. I’m in that phase at the moment, though I often read the poems. Their new comic caption challenges have been fun for Don and me. I think I won’t renew this time. (Until next cycle.)

    Our source for American culture and event news in Istanbul was Voice of America – public radio for expats and anyone else interested. I’ll never forget watching the Challenger explode on our TV 3 months after arriving and not understanding Turkish well enough to know what had happened. Turn on the radio and we got it all. This was what, 1986.

    My boss, the Chair of the English department showed me his Kindle when he got it in the mail. He chuckled that he wouldn’t have afforded it when he was just a professor. We’ve been friends a long time, and he laughs about his high salary. He earns every penny. So I asked him last week how he likes his Kindle? “I don’t.”

    It’s definitely the younger generation that I wonder about. The ones who were born into computer land, unlike we who somewhere after marriage got our first computer and shoved floppies into an Apple IIc. It is utterly the norm for my son to anticipate the next tech release – he loves the wonder of it.

    Two things recently, and then I’ll stop. Before he left for his current gig, we were watching the NBC nightly news, and he said, “I just hate watching these network TV 30 minute news shows. I can see all the news online in like 5 minutes.” A good discussion ensued, about how we like not choosing the news based on our interest – though we do that too, how sometimes we just don’t have the energy to sit and click through the important headlines – which we at the very least want to know about, if not dissect.

    Second story – we were at lunch, husband, son and I, he held out his iPhone and said, “If I had shown you this in 1973, what would you have thought?” He insisted that we morph back in time and tell him what we’d have felt watching him finger through photos and his virtual lighter. He wanted to hear what we said: we would have thought you were an alien from outer space.

    Ruth,

    We’re in the same “phase” right now. I just tucked my stack into a different corner. About eight of them are open and folded back to something interesting – I’ll have to go see what I’ve forgotten about one of these days. My big project is finding a poem that was in the magazine perhaps 25 years ago. I had it clipped out and carried it around with me forever, and wish I had it again. It can be found, it will just take a lot of time. None of my search terms have worked.

    VOA was big for us, too ~ and the BBC. There was a big VOA relay station and an Omega navigation tower just on the outskirts of Monrovia, as well as a huge field of assorted antennae that of course were meant only for keeping citizenry informed. :-)

    I’ve never even held a Kindle, so my knowledge is sketchy at best, but I keep thinking, “How can you make notes in the margin?” Part of the joy of my favorite books is re-reading them and seeing what I scribbled alongside ten or twenty years ago. The comments form a rich palimpsest, a way of watching my own interpretations change. While Arti was talking about the responses of different readers to a text, the fact is I’ve come to some of my books as two or three different readers in the same body. Same text, same individual ~ but quite a different person.

    I chuckled at your discussion about the iPhone. It reminded me of all the times I’ve heard someone say, “You know, there’s more computing power in my desktop than on Apollo 11″. It’s a little more complex than that – the discussion over at Snopes is pretty interesting – but as far as the awe factor? Absolutely. I bumped up against my first computer in 1985 – and it still was using punch cards. (It also booted itself up one day and told me its name was Melanchthon – I wasn’t required to use the thing and never touched it after that. See my response to Mike re: primitives and fear of light bulbs.)

    And yes – a quick scan of the trending topics on Twitter and a click through a couple of news sites can give you far more than the nightly news.
    Not only that, opposing viewpoints are often nestled right next to one another – I like that.

    Linda

  5. Came back to clarify – since subscribing to the NYer, I do read more than ads and comics. :)

    Never doubted that – but even if you were sticking to ads and comics, we’d still let you hobnob with us. After all, the world’s full of folks who only read the Sunday comics and the sports page, and they get to hang around ;-)

    L.

  6. Beautifully put and I couldn’t agree more.

    I work on a university campus — the same one I attended as a student in the early 70s. A couple of days ago a colleague and I were talking. “Do you notice that people don’t say hello anymore when walking on campus?”

    It’s true and I’d noted it as well, especially during my mile-long walks from the bus after my surgery, cutting through first the oldest and most beautiful part of campus, then moving into the more sterile, modern section.

    When we were students, everyone not involved in a conversation — and maybe even then — said “hello,” even if you were total strangers. This wasn’t a pick-up line, it was protocol. You smiled, said hi, and kept going. If you were waiting for the bus across campus, you talked about classes, the weather, something one was wearing, the news of the day. There was clear interaction and while we may never know those folks otherwise, we were — for that moment — comrades on our journey through college.

    As you noted, now the device is the communicator. People walk with heads down, plugged in, texting as they walk (how do they do that?) on the phone. And it’s not just at the university — a couple months ago I was in the craft store and the woman in (the very long) line ahead of me was on her cell phone in a discussion for a good seven minutes or more about Ted Kennedy’s death and the travesty that the government paid for things and if you were rich… you get it. She didn’t even get off the phone during her transaction and when she left a bag behind, I wasn’t surprised.

    I rarely carry my cell phone except on the road or when I may need to use it; in fact, I didn’t buy it — someone I met only once mailed me her old one because she was appalled I didn’t have one. My dial-up at home astounds people, and I don’t have an iPod or cool mobile device. It’s not that I don’t value quick typing on the ‘puter, the benefits of the Internet and other advantages. But not at the risk of losing all personal/interpersonal contact with one another. I’m appalled when interrupted by texting and frustrated that a new generation isn’t learning one of the most important things about being a human being — communicating and interacting with others.

    Sorry. Ranted too long — you struck a nerve!

    jeanie,

    Your reflections on walking across campus in more interactive times made me smile as I remembered my first days in rural Texas. Driving down county roads rather than freeways, I kept seeing people I didn’t know – men and women both – lift one or two fingers off the steering wheel as we passed. When I finally realized it was a pattern and not happenstance, I asked about it and was told it was a wave, a greeting, an acknowledgement that as long as we both were out there on the road, by golly, we might as well be friendly about it. It has a lot of names – the farmer wave, the work truck wave, the country wave – but there’s no mistaking it when you see it.

    Not only that, in order to exchange “waves”, people needed to be alert, to be searching out the eyes of the other driver, deciding whether to initiate the wave or respond. It was more than just a wave, it was sort of a ritual and a game, a social interaction that, just for a moment, bound two passing strangers to one another. Just as you said – “while we may never know those folks otherwise, we were – for that moment – comrades on our journey…” I miss it, and look for it every time I head out to the country.

    As for cell phones, the combination of working on the docks and needing to be available to mom makes my cell phone my constant companion, but that’s been a gradual change. When I first began varnishing, there were pay phones available at every marina. Now, they’re gone, and if you don’t have a cell phone, you’re out of luck.

    As for texting – I read an interesting give-and-take recently that was initiated by a high school teacher complaining that her students have begun incorporating texting acronymns and “language” into their formal class assignment. She was given the business by a number of folks who claimed that’s just an instance of “language changing”, and that it works perfectly well. Wouldn’t it be fun if we could sit down over coffee and talk that one through?

    I hate to tell you, but rants and compound sentences don’t usually go together ;-) You’re always welcome to have your say, no matter how long!

    Linda

  7. This post should have been addressed to my son. I once saw a photo of him sitting on the grass in Central Park while his two little ones played in the foreground. He was on his blackberry, thumbs going to town, completely involved in work. He wasn’t present.

    I saw a man texting while he was driving the other day. I get into enough trouble for not answering my cell phone. I don’t need one more thing to answer to.

    Enough about me.

    When I read your first sentence…

    “Finding a copy of The New Yorker magazine in the middle of the West African bush…”

    I knew you were going to lead me somewhere far from that place. I know to settle in, wait, and enjoy the journey that you offer. This one was an interesting ride and one that touched on so many things that niggle and nudge at the back of my brain. The world is moving so fast.

    I agree one hundred percent that we need to remember these gadgets are tools, and we are the ones in control.
    Right? Right?

    Bella

    Bella,

    Yes, you’re right. They are tools, and we’re the ones who are in control. More importantly, we’re the ones who decide whether those tools are used for good or for ill. As I like to point out, the tool called a hammer can be used to build a house or smash a skull. Same tool, different decisions. The only variable is the intent of the user.

    It’s not a new issue, of course. Even in the day when our home phone number was “1906” and a nice lady asked, “Number, please?” when you picked up the phone to make a call, there were people who would do things like phoning the neighborhood grump to ask him if his refrigerator was running.(I’ve heard reports…) Party lines could lead to every sort of mischief. We learned to live with it, and we learned how to deal with it.

    “Dealing with it” is more complex today, for a variety of reasons. But I’m seeing more signs all the time that people are beginning to ponder the role of techology in their lives. A popular local radio talk show host has “taken the pledge” for the month of November, and is urging his listeners to do the same: he’s turning off the smart phone at dinnertime, when he’s at an event with one of his children, when it’s time for he and his wife to have some time together. He’s simply made it known that he won’t be available to answer calls, emails and text messages 24/7. As he puts it, “Once they get over the sheer shock of it all, folks are pretty much ok with the decision.”

    And call waiting? In my world, that’s pretty close to the top of the list of disrespectful tech habits. Unless I’m on a critical mission, when someone gets another call and asks, “Can I put you on hold?”, I always say “Sure”. Then I hang up. ;-)

    Linda

  8. You’ll have to forgive me for LOLing, Linda, because I was “married” to a gotta-have-every-new-fangled-tech-toy-woman for 11 years! I’ll have to say, however, that she was very generous in giving her older versions away, often to my daughter…or me, if I was interested (usually I wasn’t). I remember in college (1963-67) when you could see punch cards for the huge-room computers on the sides of walks, dropped by the techie students. I can imagine what they must think now with all our hand-held devices.

    Interestingly, Astrid and I are totally dependent right now on our daily laptop MSN chats, e-mails and Skype talks. I don’t think our long-distance relationship would be where it is today without it. BUT we often talk about how our laptops will find a secondary place in our lives once we are together. I hope that’s true. We want to get back to some of the basics…enjoying life inside or outside without the Internet controlling us. Our apartment is in Gorinchem, a citadel city surrounded by rivers and canals. It will feel like heaven at my doorstep! Sure, I’ll be connected to the laptop every day….but then I’ll leave it and try to find some balance, reminding me of the good ol’ days!

    It sounds like you and I have had some similar experiences, putting us on the same page in so many situations. So, yes, I can identify!

    Ginnie,

    Your mention of chats, emails and Skype is a perfect example of what I mean by the “tool-ish” nature of these things. Just now, they’re useful to you in the maintenance of a relationship. Once the two of you are together, the need for email and Skype will drop away, and you’ll be chatting face-to-face. (Of course, those tools probably will assume some importance in keeping in touch with folks in the States!)

    I’ve some family in the military and have friends with sons, granddaughters, etc. deployed. The ability to email is wonderful, easing as it does the loneliness and sense of being cut-off among those overseas and the anxieties of those left at home.

    I do think of the internet a bit differently than my cell phone, for example. It’s a different kind of tool, in the sense that I also use it for education, enjoyment, etc. ~ the Swiss army knife of tech tools! It’s not too far a stretch to say I pick up and put down the internet in the same way I would a book or magazine, reading and re-reading things of particular interest, “bookmarking” them, and so on. But I still miss being able to underline, highlight and scribble notes in the margins!

    Balance is the key, for sure. I’m not willing to make the kind of hard distinction between “real” life and “virtual” life some people do – the fact that I’m sitting here responding to your comments is perfectly real, after all – but it’s also true that a lot of folks have fallen down the cyber-rabbit hole and barely remember what it’s like to live “unplugged”!

    Linda

  9. This essay is amazing, and totally could be published as is outside of this blog format – I think your argument is beautifully rendered. I have to admit I don’t pay too much attention to the social/cultural criticism of social media but your post is the first that has actually made me want to pay attention!

    Courtney,

    What a wonderful compliment ~ that the essay piqued your interest. My own interest in all this began when I realized I didn’t give a flip for Facebook, MySpace, or being able to browse the internet from the docks. At first I felt as though I was deficient in some way – missing the “tech gene”, perhaps. Now? Not so much.

    Thanks so much for stopping by – glad you enjoyed the read!

    Linda

  10. Linda,

    I liked your essay very much. Your first line made me smile — and who can resist the story of your chalk & blackboard ‘blogger’? Not me.

    But your message hit a little too close to home last night. Thanks to mere inches and great brakes and my husband’s quick reflexes, we just missed being sideswiped by a fast car who ran a red light. He didn’t slow down until he was half-way up the next block. With no memory of what I had been saying just seconds before — and certainly no memory of this, your latest essay — I wondered whether the driver had been distractd by cell phone conversation or texting. It would be hard to convince me it was neither.

    It hits me — though not quite like a runaway car — that the more technology we have, the less we really say to each other. It’s mostly surface talk that doesn’t mean anything.

    I’m grateful to have two good listeners in my life. Both offer me some listening space through a cell of a kinder kind — a cell like Julian of Norwich used to listen to pilgrams — rather than the so often misused cell phones that cause wrecks. It no small bit of irony that many carry their cell phones in holsters.

    Maybe I should have begun by saying I lived this essay very much.

    Janell,

    I’ve spent far too much time trying to find a quotation from G.K. Chesterton, who mentioned, around the time of the laying of the Transatlantic Cable, the irony of the development coming along precisely when Europe and America had so little to say to each other. It seems concerns about the quality of communication have pretty deep roots ;-)

    In “The Talk of the Town” section of the latest New Yorker, Nick Paumgarten supports your opinion about the probably-distracted driver who nearly did you in. Writing about the pilots who overshot Minneapolis, he mentions a study at Western Washington University of what’s called “inattentional blindness”. In very short summary, they sent out a clown on a unicycle to peddle around campus. Three out of four who were on their cell phones failed to notice the clown’s presence, while those who simply were walking were far more likely to do so.

    Paumgarten goes on to make the point that talking or texting while driving can be lethal, especially if the “clown” you don’t notice happens to be a cement truck. He also confirms what we’ve all suspected – that “multi-tasking” simply reduces our effectiveness with each task. It’s a great short piece, and worth reading.

    There has to be an essay or meditation inside your comparison of Julian’s cell and cell phones. That’s truly wonderful.

    Me? I’m just glad you’re still around to be commenting. And I’m going to be looking both ways twice at intersections for a while ;-)

    Linda

  11. Funny you mention The New Yorker. Starting with its May 09 issue, several covers are done with the iPhone application ‘Brushes’. That’s right, the artist uses his finger on his iPhone to ‘paint’ the covers. So there you go, who needs to go to art school? Here’s the link to the new wave of cover art:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/AheadoftheCurve/story?id=7666018&page=1

    I think the trend is irreversible, and I’m resigned to accept it. Why not? I haven’t written a letter for years. And as bloggers, the ‘virtual friendship’ is no less real to me than real life, I mean in terms of the sharing of thoughts and feelings.

    But there’s one thing that I don’t prefer to do and that’s reading eBook. It’s just too straining for the eyes and much less satisfying. When it comes to reading, nothing beats the real print on paper, and actually turning the pages. Although I do have the app ‘Stanza’ in my iPhone where I can read all the books in Project Gutenberg, among other online book sites.

    And also, I’m still comfortably reclusive, non-existent on Facebook and Twitter. This, I believe, will remain for a long while.

    Arti,

    Thanks for the link to the story on the covers. I remember when one of the first landed in my mailbox. It had a different “look”, and I checked out the artist to see what the title was. That’s when I discovered how it had been done.

    Until I wrote this essay and continued thinking about these things, I hadn’t realized how much my relationship with “The New Yorker” has changed. I used to go straight for the cartoons, then read the short pieces and go back for the longer stories. Now, the first thing I look at is the cover. Sometimes I’ll even go online to learn more about the artist. Given the discussions we’ve had on your blog and Oh’s about visual rhetoric, I’m curious – has it been my use of the computer and my work with blogs that’s made me more sensitive to the visual elements of even print media? I’ll have to think about that.

    I laughed so at your comment about Facebook and Twitter. It used to be that a recluse was that old guy who lived in the tumble-down house at the end of the road. Now, it’s someone who avoids social networking sites! If that be the case, I’m one of the biggest recluses in the world. I simply don’t have time in my life for all those quizzes, games, virtual drinks and virtual gifts. Again, there’s nothing WRONG with all that. But there only are so many hours in a day, and an hour or two on FB or Twitter takes away from reading, writing and commenting here. It all comes down to choices, and everyone’s choices will be different.

    As I noted above, I’ll agree with your point about the virtual world being just as “real” as anything else. And like the world we walk around in as living, breathing creatures, it’s pretty much what we make of it.

    Linda

  12. The “Wave.” I remember it well from the small town I grew up in on Cape Cod. There were less than 900 year-round residents at that time so you pretty much knew everyone you’d meet on the road and those fingers lifted off the steering wheel was almost reflexive. From Memorial Day to Labor Day when the “City Shitties” (as we called the summer residents and tourists) swelled the population five times over, the “wave” was our way of picking each other out of the crowd and an acknowledgement of our special place in our unique universe.

    Richard,

    How wonderful to know that the “Wave” existed up there, too. It may be everywhere.

    Your comments about the tourists and summer people made me laugh – we live with the same phenomenon. In some communities, there are other ways of picking the locals out of the crowd. Local shrimpers wear white boots. Tourist ladies clomp around the docks in spike heels. Down in Port Aransas, Texas, there was a mimeographed booklet going around for a while, titled, “You Know You’re an Islander If…” Like its cousin, “You Know You’re a Redneck If…” it was pretty funny. You know the genre: “You know you’re an islander if… you get out of your truck on the ferry to re-wire your muffler.” That sort of thing.

    I know this ~ there’s nothing in the world more wonderful than a beach, or a beach town, or the ICW in winter. Even working the docks has its charms. As I suspect you’re aware, there’s nothing quite like the camaraderie of the “Dang! We’re tough!” crowd ;-)

    Linda

  13. I am resisting the iphone. And will fight against Kindle.

    As usual, your posts are thought-provoking, and I have to linger and read the whole thing. Whoever said long posts do not command attention span?

    damyantig,

    How nice to see you! I’ve so enjoyed your recent reports from your conferences/workshops.

    About a year ago I was talking to a fellow who’s done a good bit of newspaper writing, including columns. He said, “If you’re going to write long, it has to read short”. That’s some of the best advice I’ve received. You can do a lot with 1500 words, give or take, but those words had better be doing something besides sitting around in a pile. They need to work to keep the reader engaged.

    It’s been a very interesting experience for me over the past year-and-a-half. I began with much shorter entries, and only slowly began to see them lengthen as I became more confident and felt more “in control” of my work. I do think there’s an outside limit for blog entry length, but I’ve been toying with the idea of a three-part entry on a particular subject. Stretching, stretching…. ;-)

    Thanks so much for stopping by. It’s always a pleasure!

    Linda

  14. Alfred Sirleaf and what he’s doing are beautiful. A wonderful way to end the post, Linda.

    Rachel!

    Isn’t Alfred a wonder? One of the articles I read about him mentioned he’d been schooled up-country. I knew an Alfred Sirleaf when I was there. He was just a kid at the time, and I’ve wondered if this might be the same person. The name’s as common there as John Smith here, so there’s no telling. But he certainly embodies the creativity and resiliance of the country.

    Good to see you – it’s always a pleasure to have you stop by.

    Linda

  15. If I hadn’t bothered to read the words, this post would have been well worth the time just because you showcased the work of two artists who I really enjoy. Well done.

    But of course, I did read, and it made it even better.

    Your words echo my thoughts over the past few weeks as I took an unplanned break from the internet community. Coming back to it in the midst of a seemingly endless list of tasks that “must” be done was hard enough and it solidifies my position on Facebook, Twitter and the like even more. I just cannot do it. It isn’t an issue of wanting to or not wanting to. And it certainly is not an issue (at least not solely) of being an old fuddy-duddy about it. I don’t want two more things in my life that demand my attention and conversely fuel my guilt when they don’t receive that attention. I cannot multi task that much…and I won’t.

    I’ve always found my own position in history to be an interesting one, and it is no doubt shared by people of every generation who look at where they have come from and where they are going. I revel in the fact that my earlier childhood pre-dated cable television. That black and white tv’s were still seen in people’s homes. I love that I got to witness firsthand the dawn of the video game generation, the rise of music television, the age of the personal computer. With the widespread arrival of the internet I felt like I had reached the pinnacle of what technology needed to do for me, at least in my day to day life. I had…have…access to an unlimited amount of knowledge, entertainment, creative outlets, ways to make new friends…and at the same time my nostalgia for my own personal “good old days” has kept me from embracing much beyond the world of blogging. I find it odd that at age 40..almost 41…that I have drawn a line in the sand, at least for now, that I am unwilling to cross.

    While I may be found playing the latest XBox game or listening to music online, I am as unwilling to participate in the facebook/twitter world as I was in the chat rooms that were all the rage in earlier internet days. I have no desire to try out the Kindle or any other e-reader. I don’t want to read my books online or through something that is not, by my definition, a book. And while I am more than willing to converse with people through blog comments and emails, I am not willing to “chit-chat” via text or twitter or facebook status. I just have no desire.

    I certainly don’t fault anyone who does enjoy these things. All of it can be beneficial and fun and harmless, so long as it, like anything, is a balanced part of life and can be kept in perspective. It is just not for me.

    There may come a day when having the latest phone and participating in the latest social network will be just what I want to be doing. But that day has yet to come and more often than not I find myself longing to return to “simpler” times, reading a good book or watching a movie with family/friends without cell phone/text/twitter interruptions.


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