Friday, 25 May 2012

Cracks in the Luddite

Despite having a big fat diploma from a major technology institute, I’m not a gadget geek. I don’t even have a cell phone, nor do I want one. Honestly, if I wanted to be tracked every moment of every day, I’d have a chip installed under my skin. But when the Kindle came out and my fellow book-lovers raved about it, my luddite shell developed a few cracks. I argued, I squirmed, I launched counter-attacks, all of which blew up in my face the day someone said “Hey, this thing would be great on a boat.”  Just damn. 

Not only can I carry my whole library with me, it fits inside the pocket of my sailing jacket (those large outside ones anyway).  And I can get new books delivered in seconds anywhere and anytime I have an internet connection.  And it’s cheaper than buying physical books, with the added advantage that no one can see what I’m reading !  And, the final nail in the coffin: I can get over 1000 kilograms of books into 250 grams of Kindle*, not to mention the space savings.  Just so that I don’t sound like a born-again convert, the Kindle cannot replace technical publications or guides because of the limited graphics ability and screen size, so my new boat will not be bookless by any means.  I also will sorely miss those charming book swaps in the port offices of many destinations and may take along a few paperbacks from time to time just to have something swapable on hand.
*estimate based on Kindle capacity of approx. 3500 books, with an average weight of 340 grams each.

Just as I was getting over the fact that I’d caved in over the Kindle, Patrick came home one day last week and proudly announced that he had just bought an MP3 player.  He went straight for the jugular:  “This will be great on the boat – we can listen to the radio, download all our music and cds, and buy a docking station with speakers to use instead of installing a traditional radio / cd player on the boat.  Think of all the space and weight we’ll save !”  I could feel the blood draining from my face.  I was about to throw out some feeble arguments such as “but we don’t even like music” or “it’s dangerous to plug your ears during your watch”, but then I thought of all those great radio shows I could download from NPR and BBC.  With a tear in my eye, I could already see myself standing behind the helm on the high seas, tapping my toes to the latest from NPR’s Mountain Stage. With a smile on my face, I imagined myself laughing with Click and Clack on Car Talk.  And with chin-in-hand in a thoughtful pose, I knew that the BBC’s In Our Time would take up a lot of my spare time.

I have no choice but to admit defeat in the face of the space, weight, and money-saving advances in home (boat) entertainment, but this sure puts a crimp in my “back to nature” ideas.  I’ve decided to treat this like any other potential addiction and will keep telling myself that a gadget now and again isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and that I can stop anytime I want.


Yia Yia Thompson said...
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