Douglas Coupland has been drafted in to fill Stephen Fry's shoes on his tech column Dork Talk. The Canadian author and artist has tackled the subject of gadgets and obsolescence, taking as his starting-point the fact that the box of techno-baubles he received from The Guardian in London were all unworkable in North America. And this got him thinking, about how time is now measured in "tech-waves." If that's the case, then what era are we currently in?
I guess we are coming to the end of the early iPhone era. But Coupland, the author of Microserfs and Generation X, moves onto another, more disturbing theory: that gadgets make morons of us all.
I remember in the 80s when mobile phones first started to pop. I remember how, if you saw someone using a mobile phone on a street, you immediately thought they were an asshole: gee, my phone call is so important I have to make it right here and right now! Twenty years later, we're all assholes. We're assholes at the supermarket's meat counter at 5:30pm, phoning home to ask if we need prosciutto; we're assholes driving in traffic; and we're assholes wandering down the streets. And with mobile phones and handhelds, we collapse time and space and our perception of distance and intimacy.
And he has a point. I can see how gadgetry does strange, stupid things to people, but in a different way. My Motorola Razr Mk 1 is dying a pathetic death. Its current battery life stands at approximately 15 minutes, it does nothing but calls and SMS. Basically, I need a new phone. But am I going to get one? When Steve announces the arrival of a 64GB iPhone, (estimated arrival Summer 2009?) I will. But until then, I'll make do. You see? Technology has turned me into an a-hole. [Guardian Unlimited]