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Xeogaming Forums - Debate Shrine - Which would you pick? | |
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Dragon Fly

Since: 09-19-05
From: Woodlawn, TN

Since last post: 4588 days
Last activity: 4526 days
Posted on 10-13-05 11:15 AM Link | Quote
Not sure if this falls under this thred or not but here goes it. Tell me if you guys agree or not? I got this off a new artical from Wired News at,1282,68606,00.html

Two people walk into a cafe. The woman, thin-lipped and unsmiling, carries a well-thumbed book of poetry and has a spiral notebook tucked under her arm. There's a tragic air about her. Her hair spills lifelessly from under a beret; she's dressed in black from head to toe. She goes to the counter and asks for a glass of Chianti. She's got a full day of writing ahead of her. Suicide poetry, most likely.

The guy who almost runs up the woman's back following her through the door is toting a laptop; maybe it's a PowerBook, or a high-end Dell. It doesn't matter. He's got the whole yuppie-geek thing going: crisp blue shirt, khakis, cell-phone holster, designer frames. The man on a mission orders a low-fat, decaf latte.

Both of them spot the empty chair next to you at the same time. Quick: Who would you rather share your table with for the next hour or so?

I've been the copy chief at Wired News for more than seven years now, and I'll take the poet every time. For one thing, the cafe is a place to socialize or to sit in quiet solitude. The poet probably won't have much to say, but she'll leave you in peace. It's hard to do either when your tablemate is checking stock quotes online or yapping with a business partner on his cell phone. Working on the computer is a little like masturbation: It's best accomplished in the privacy of your own home. Besides, I'm something of a tech skeptic, so the poet appeals to the Luddite in me.

And that's the reason for this column: to lend a contrarian perspective to a world besotted with technology and all its bright, glittery appeal. This is not, as some of my colleagues have characterized it, an "anti-technology" column. I'm not, strictly speaking, anti-technology. I just don't treat it like a freaking religion. So this is a "perspective" column.

In case you're wondering, this Luddite thing doesn't compromise my effectiveness as an editor for what is often described as a "tech site." On the contrary, a professional editor can edit anything. Besides, I like to think that my colleagues find my iconoclastic crankiness kind of endearing. If nothing else, it breaks up the monotony of all those clacking keyboards. I swear, sometimes it sounds like the pious fiddling with their prayer beads in here.

The blind worship of technology makes me very cranky, indeed. At heart, I'm a wick-and-tallow man, although I freely concede that technological advances have achieved some great things. You can kill your enemy without ever laying eyes on him. You can consume, consume, consume to your heart's delight. You can have a dog without actually taking the responsibility of owning one. You can infect other people's computers with viruses. You can burn a hole in your corneas and drain the color from your flesh by playing video games for a hundred hours every week. And you can blog because everything you say is so interesting it should be shared with everyone.

OK, OK, they're doing remarkable things with stem cells these days (when they're allowed to). The internet, used intelligently, can be a terrific research tool, an effective guardian of free speech and the sharing of information, plus it opens an entire world to people who might otherwise be shut out. Cell phones and handhelds, used judiciously, come in handy now and then. E-mail, while encouraging sloppy writing habits, certainly has the advantage of immediacy. Then there's TiVo, of course. There's plenty of useless crap being flogged out there, too, but it's not all doom and gloom.

But it ain't no bed of roses, either. There's a price to be paid for all this cool stuff, and it's a steep one. The farther we advance and the faster we go, the more we seem to be losing touch with our basic humanity.

Today, as we launch this "anti-tech" column on this august tech site, let's just generally consider the human factor. That, after all, is the Luddite's historical concern. For all the things it's done for humanity, technology has been equally hurtful. You feel the pain of it, or know somebody who does. Admit it.

For one thing, human beings are not meant to go as fast as modern technology compels them to go. Technology might make it possible to work at warp speed, yes, but that doesn't make it healthy. And just because the latest software makes it feasible to double your workload (or "productivity," to you middle-management types), that shouldn't give the boss the right to expect you will.

With cell phones, IM and all the personal-this and personal-that, we're connected all the time, or "24/7" as the unfortunate jargon has it. Is being connected 24/7 a good thing? Isn't it healthy to be "off the grid" now and then? If you can't answer "yes" to that question, you may be a tech dynamo, my friend, but please stay the hell out of my cafe.

Technology was supposed to free us, not enslave us. The promise of technology was the promise of an efficient workplace and more freedom to pursue the things that enrich us as human beings. Well, technology has freed us all right -- permanently, in some cases. How many jobs have simply disappeared, made obsolete overnight by computers that don't mind working 24/7, don't expect a union wage and never bitch about working conditions? How many companies have made such enormous investments in the latest technology that they now consider their human employees expendable? Too many, that's how many.

Technology, specifically computer technology, was going to help the environment, too, by eliminating the need for paper and saving all those trees. A few more trees may be standing, somewhere, but as landfills fill up with junked monitors, CPUs and printers (many perfectly functional but discarded simply because something more way-cool came along), it's hard to see where the environment -- your environment, incidentally -- has benefited much.

Anything that diminishes the value of a single human being poses a threat to a rational, humane society. When technology can cure a disease or help you with your homework or bring a little joy to a shut-in, that's great. But when it costs you your job, or trashes the environment, or takes you out of the real world in favor of a virtual one, or drives your blood pressure through the roof, it's a monster.

I'm a Luddite who nevertheless uses technology (I mean, I'm not Amish, for crying out loud). The romantic in me might prefer the idea of riding Old Paint into town but I can appreciate the efficiency of a car, especially one with a five-speed gearbox. What I'll be doing in this column is asking you technophiles to downshift a bit, to relax. Who gives a damn if you're working on a Mac or a PC, really? It's just a bloody box.

So take a little break. Get some sunshine. Go down to the cafe and keep communion with a tortured poet.
If you're reading this... You are the Resistance

Since: 08-17-04

Since last post: 2 days
Last activity: 2 days
Posted on 10-13-05 01:57 PM Link | Quote
All right, let's hear it from the mod in me. I wouldn't exactly call this "Crazy" and I wouldn't move it to "Story" either, so I think I shall move this to Debate.

It's an interesting hypothetical situation that the writer poses, but I'm not one whose table gets shared. The poet strikes my fancy, but I tend to avoid such types--the pseudo-goths and bastardized intellectuals. Nothing against her art and not meaning to poison the well, but based on the description, if she was writing suicide poetry I'd get up and walk out.

As an editor myself and one that works in various constricting situations that make me need that time I spend in a cafe or walking alone or [insert other so-called underrated/overrated activity one does to get in touch with the spiritual part of themselves], I've indulged in the time when the phone isn't ringing, when I'm not worrying when that vital story is going to stroll on in before deadline, when I'm not re-formatting my layout for page whatever for the gajillionth-so time, or when a photog leaves a message in my box saying an event was a bust and there were no usable shots. All those things that wish you have a Glock 9mm duct-taped 'neath your standard issue uncomfortable, blue desk chair. No, not for them, but for yourself do you reserve such promised, instant Nirvana.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...

I do see that it's unfortunte to become such a slave to technology. I can't count the number of times a simple computer or printer failure triggers that immediate pin-prick to the heart with grief. It is rather disgusting in us human, heavily-flawed creatures. I do still prefer to write by hand, though. How else would one feel the words leak onto the pages, expressing one's emotions through their own art of handwriting?

Also, I fortunately do not have the modern convenience of a cellular phone. Not for the fact that I can't get one so much, but for how much it's a bother that one needs it to keep track of everyone in their lives. They're toys, simply. It's taken away from the urban romance and anonymity of a pay phone. Better yet, actually sitting down and talking with the person. I blog, but still scribble in one of five meaningless drivel-filled journals I religiously carry with me for some reason.

Then again, why even stop with technology. Simple economy is overtaken by the need for human convenience. Why worry about the little guy, those independent Mom-and-Pops out there, when Sprawl*Mart Wal*Mart has everything I'm looking for and for cheaper, so the everyday Jack of All Trades modern man would say. Couple this with what Mr. Luddite argued for against machinery, shouldn't we all just torch a K-Mart once in while for our own comfort in pushing back the tide of technology. Sure, you're a terrorist now, but hell I'd get more kicks from that than my $4 cup o' joe (black as night and sweet as sin, thank you) at the local coffeehouse thinking how the world is so needlessly complicated.

Well how else, can I convey this? I suppose my simple answer to the prompt is to wait for a man draped in a traditional Roman tunic, garlands in his hair, spouting the prose of Plato, Socrates and Aristotle. Perhaps then we'd have something in common.

(Last edited by Rogue on 10-13-05 05:44 PM)
Fear will kill your mind and steal your love as sure as anything;
Fear will rob you blind and make you numb to others suffering

Since: 10-03-04
From: Azul Lux Orbital, Kirin Beta

Since last post: 1029 days
Last activity: 377 days
Posted on 10-13-05 02:00 PM Link | Quote
Completely off-topic, Murdock - The text in your layout is a bitch to read.

Dragon Fly

Since: 09-19-05
From: Woodlawn, TN

Since last post: 4588 days
Last activity: 4526 days
Posted on 10-13-05 02:40 PM Link | Quote
Sorry and ok..
Good points Rogue..
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