Call me a Luddite, but for the life of me I cannot understand much of the hoopla surrounding iThings. Of course you also have to understand that I am very likely the only person on the planet that does not own a cellphone or MP3 player. That is not to say that I don’t like gadgets or computers, indeed I spend virtually every waking hour interacting with computers. Most days I climb into my comfy ‘captains chair’ around 6:30am and remain there until bedtime.

My two computers are working 24/7 and my desk looks like a scene from a bad horror movie. The only item that can be grabbed quickly is my very old ‘corded’ yellowing telephone. It has no features just buttons that allow me to make phone calls. The buttons are designed for adult sized hands, rather than cell phones that require the skill of a brain surgeon to find accurately. My aging phone was a bargain, $3 from the Goodwill store.

My monitors are 19 inch CRT’s that you would need a crane to lift. As a result my desk is hurricane proof, a 100mph wind could not move it. My wife and stepson have those new fangled flat screens and I hate em. They do not have near the picture quality of good old tube technology.

A few feet in front of my desk is a thirty too many inch TV. This beast weighs more than the average family car and took three people to lift it onto a stand. Every couple of weeks I take a walk around the outside of the house to see if it is causing the house to sink into the earth below. There is a certain unevenness in the kitchen floor and I have to admit that I feel the TV might have some bearing on the problem.

I have digressed, lets jet back to iThings and gizmos. The house is awash in them. My stepson has a love affair with them. In the 18 months or so that he has lived with us he has assembled a collection of cell phones that is likely larger than can be found in your local Cell Phone Emporium. He also is the owner of a prestigious collection of MP3 players.

For the past while his favorite thing has been an iPhone. In fact it never leaves his hands. I have a theory that he likely bought a waterproof version so he can take it in the shower with him!

Both he and his girlfriend have iPhones, and it is amusing to watch them. Not long ago they were walking through the disaster zone that masquerades as our living room. they were not talking to each other, but rather they were busy pounding away on their iPhones. I could not resist. I said hi, and asked what they were doing. “texting” was the one word reply.

It is claimed by many that the advent of TV killed the book industry. It took work to read, TV provided a format that was recreational, a constant flow of garbage to scramble the mind.

I am now beginning to think that the iPhone is starting to kill the art of speech. Why bother talking when you can text?

There is no doubt in my mind that the invention of the MP3 was a great thing. It ushered in the era where something could be copied and there was no loss of quality. This was a far cry from the days of the lowly cassette tape. But, through the law of unintended consequences it also ushered in the advent of easy music piracy, DRM (Digital Rights Management) in its various guises was the result. The real downfall was when companies started to create small portable devices that could play MP3 files. Enter the iPod. Had manufacturers stayed out of the MP3 device market and left it as a computer only format, I doubt that the RIAA (Recording Industry of America Association) would have cared less about the issue.

Before I started my new life as a digital hermit in the wilds of Mississippi I did actually have a real job. It entailed a 30 minute commute by bus. Day after day I would board what was often a very full commuter bus and see a sea of glassy eyed folks with wires leading to their ears. 50 people rocking along to Barry Manilow, Iron Maiden, and quite often cRap. How did I know? Simple, they had the volume turned up so high that I could listen in without those wires. Even worse, one or two American Idol wannabe’s would be singing along with whatever they were listening to. The iPod was not for me.

The latest gizmo is the iPad. I can’t even begin to imagine where this will lead the human race. The concept of those 50 people on the bus with iPads conjures up some horrible thoughts. Now will not only have to listen to cRap we will be able to watch it!

I think I prefer my Luddite existence. In fact as I write this I an sat on my front porch, the birds are singing and there are some wonderful flowering bushes in full bloom. Red, orange, and purple flowers, peace and tranquillity abounds.

I will leave the iThings to the iGeneration.

I said earlier that I do in fact like gizmos. And indeed I am typing this on my favorite gizmo. It takes 3 AA batteries and the battery life is measured in months not hours (about 9), it also has very close to a full size keyboard. I am certain that most iGeneration folks would hate the Alphasmart Neo. But it is my best friend when outside. It doesn’t surf, text, or make phone calls. It deals in only one commodity, words.

I guess that is another of my Luddite leanings, I like things that do one thing and do them well. So many of todays gizmos are designed to do everything, but actually do not excel in any one aspect. I have great admiration for an Olympic Decathlete, here is a man or woman that has mastered many different sports. But, put them head to head against the specialist, they likely will lose.

Why does the iGeneration want the Olympic Decathlete rather than the expert? During the 1970′, at the hight of the apartheid situation in what was then known as the county of Rhodesia the global cry was ‘One man one vote’. Well my cry is ‘One device, one function’! Oh, and do it well.

This has been a delightful rant, and I feel much better, I will now return you to your regular programming.

Simon Barrett

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