Et tu, uncle Agrippa?

This past week my trusty Windows Mobile toting Samsung Jack died. It was the longest lasting phone I ever had. That device was built to withstand the worst. There are few hands more devoid of caution than mine. That phone survived a brief temper tantrum that had it flung against a wall. It dropped 4 stories (into grass). It fell out of a moving car and even once dropped into a sink full of water. Through all this it persisted. I can’t decide if it’s poetry or irony that it would pass so quietly and unceremoniously. I was starting to believe it would take a thermo nuclear crisis to end it.

I’m not really that attached to technology. Gadgets fail often, I feel nothing. What concerns me is what comes next for me. It’s odd that as co-founder of a tech site, I would have such outdated gear. Odder still that I lack the general gadget lust that makes my geek-kind spend so irresponsibly. There’s an unspoken cloud of zen that seems to surround me, like I know some grand secret. I need to dispel that right now. I am a geek. I come with all the dressings of a geek. I am obsessive, defensive and offensive about my chosen passions. If I had $100 to my name, I would spend $99 on gear to tell the world how little food I can get for $1. My charming retro-ness has nothing to do with aesthetics and everything to do with opportunity.

I have a problem. I have an all seeing eye. It’s called an internet connection. I’m an addict. Far from being like the tweeps and stalkers who haunt twitter and Facebook. I have little desire to share, unless it aids my intention to obfuscate. Knowing things is my poison. My feed reader alerts me to hundreds of new articles every hour. Without interacting quite as much, I read through almost every tweet and Facebook entry. I’m what you’d call a lurker. I spend endless hours clicking the “random” link on wikipedia because somehow it always shows me something I didn’t know. There’s no need retreading this ground, I already told you about my problem with ‘creep‘.

One piece of the creep pie that’s been notably absent has been the mobile space. I always choose the wifi only option when buying gear. My Samsung Jack, though capable of internet, was unacceptable. I used a total of 1.4mb of data in the month of January. That was my highest monthly data usage. I have somehow been able to keep myself disconnected when separated from my PC. Granted, my need to know everything that’s happening would have me rushing back to it. It’s always a relief when everything is a mystery for the odd hour out there. It’s weird and exciting not knowing what the weather will be later, or that a bomb just went off somewhere. The world could be ending and I won’t know unless someone decides to text or call me.

All of that is about to change. I ordered a Samsung Focus running Windows Phone 7 last night (too discounted to pass up). The order automatically bumped up my data plan from the barely used 200Mb to 2Gb. Ignoring the fact that it’s on AT&T and so I will have connection issues, this marks a first. For the first time I will have access to everything every time. I have no idea how I’m going to handle it. I can already feel, at the edge of my consciousness, little pings of data popping up. My obsessive nature forcing me to read every update so that I can get the status indicator down to zero. Even this article has taken longer to write than it should because I keep stopping to look at a new feed update in Google reader. I’m that annoying guy who slows down on a highway to finish reading the billboard. I’m addicted to data and i’m not certain that a modern smartphone was a good idea.

**Point of clarification** That last paragraph overstates my obsessive nature. It is a problem, but only when I have nothing more important to do. The key seems to be the difficulty of the task. the more difficult it is, the less I tend to split my awareness and indulge my data lust. There have been days when I’ve looked at my feed reader (which stops counting once you have more than a thousand entries) and just marked all as “read”. The realization that I’m not somehow less¬†knowledgeable¬†after doing that is part of something I will discuss some other time soon. How connected I am at any given moment is rarely an indication of my level of distraction. It’s often an indication of the level of importance or the level of difficulty I assign to a task (little). **End clarification**

I’ve begun a series of experiments with myself that are designed to make my life more minimalist. I’ll be writing more on my idea/theory and the steps I’ll be taking. As worried as I am, I’ve decided to use this period as a learning period. I intend to learn to manage my data hunger better.

9 thoughts on “Et tu, uncle Agrippa?

    1. I wasn’t happy with the Atrix. My choice was made partly by cost. With the discount I could get the Focus for $50. But I had already decided I didn’t want the Atrix because it was pointless for me. Overkill on hardware, less impressive screen, over priced, and slow despite the dual-core.

      Also, it’s kind of silly that we have to pay more for the phone because it’s 4G when there’s no such thing as real 4G on AT&T.

    2. I wasn’t happy with the Atrix. My choice was made partly by cost. With the discount I could get the Focus for $50. But I had already decided I didn’t want the Atrix because it was pointless for me. Overkill on hardware, less impressive screen, over priced, and slow despite the dual-core.

      Also, it’s kind of silly that we have to pay more for the phone because it’s 4G when there’s no such thing as real 4G on AT&T.

  1. I did my own little social test last year. I deleted (not deactivated, actually deleted) my Facebook account about 9 months ago. I had noticed that I didn’t hang out with my friends anymore, we’d just chat in replies, or like something. When I deleted my account, they protested, saying what happened? I said if you want to hang out, fuckin’ call me. They did (and do). I now have so much more to talk to them about – because I don’t see everything little intimate piece of information that goes on with their lives. Before, if we ever hung out, it was a string of conversations that started as “oh yeah did you see so and so got his..”
    “yeah I saw that.”
    All followed by silence. Facebook is killing social interaction.. by being too social.

    1. I can dig it. I’m already pretty off grid, but I agree. I’ve said as much to some good friends. I have little urge to call them because I see their status updates and I feel like I’m up to speed. I haven’t actually spoken to my best friend in months.

  2. I’m stuck with the exact same Samsung Jack as my work cell phone.

    AND I LOATHE IT WITH EVERY FIBER IN MY BEING.

    1. I once loathed the Jack too. It was a temp phone as I waited for my htc tilt-2. As time went by, it was just temporary till I could jump to Verizon and get on the Droidwagon. Through it all, one day, I realized that it was the first phone I would retire while perfectly functional. And more than that, it had outlived everything but my first phone (one of those old, free Nokia bricks).

      My affection for it is more a measure of familiarity and the fondness of time spent.

      1. My boss, who is from Germany, LOVES the thing. He told me that when he first got his Samsung Jack, he liked it so much that he bought five more for when the first one breaks. I looked at him and said, “You know, by the time you kill just two of those, the rest of the world will be using 3D holographic technology, right?”

        I think it comes from his being German and not having a lot of choices growing up.

        1. Funny enough, the Samsung Jack just started working again. Hahaha. This thing will never die.

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