Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Silence

WARNING - this is potentially a long story and could, in fact, make a good TED talk.

I started programming, for entertainment, in 1982 as a Junior or Senior in High School. I got my first paid gig writing some software for my father's consulting business. About 10-12 years later I was making changes to the OS/2 kernel and GUI internals.

Shortly after that I started work for a payments processor; and while my work leading up to payments was technical and challenging this new job was 9-5 and 24x7x365; and along with a paycheck came a beeper. (if you were lucky you got the full alpha-text pager and not just the numeric; some even had two-way text capability; later came the first BlackBerrys).

When these pagers went off you had to find a pay-phone and call in. I recall being less than 4 miles from the office when my pager went off and pulling over to a gas station... and sitting on the phone for 45 minutes talking the operations guy off the ledge.

The reason I'm writing this is because several days ago I cracked the display of my iPhone and I finally got around to getting it repaired. The repair was supposed to take 45 minutes so I thought I would get some lunch. Unlike leaving the phone at home or in my sock drawer this felt different. As I drove to the sandwich shop the world got quieter. I realized that in that 45 minutes there was no way for anyone to connect with me and there was no way for me to connect with anyone else unless I found a pay-phone.

As soon as my phone was returned to me I noticed the opposite. The world was suddenly noisy again.

I'm certain there are people who have had phones and smartphones longer than half their lives. How would they deal with this situation? How would they feel when separated from their phone? Today being on vacation usually means monitoring emails etc... so that the shock of returning to work is reduced. Even on a cruise you can check your email; and if you bring your own computer or tablet it's a reasonable cost.

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