Connection Overload

by Alex

The i Phone is here and now this future computer.

Yes, of course, cool.   I’m not immune to the coolness.   But looking at that photo also made my heart sink.   It looks to me like even more time on the computer per day.
And that’s more than a little scary.

I was talking to a graduate school class of future librarians this week about writing and giving them an overview of Internet resources for authors and someone asked me how I manage my time on the Internet.

Manage??

No, really.   That’s hysterical.   

Let’s see, now.   There’s Murderati, MySpace, Facebook, Dorothy L, Murder Must Advertise, MWA Breakout,  Mystery Babes, 4MA,  Sisters in Crime, Idiosyncratic, Newbie’s Guide,  WriterAction, Shocklines, Backspace, Good Girls Kill,  Naked Authors,  Heart of Carolina….  now CrimeSpace…. and I mean, that’s just the basics.   And then, oh, right, my friends.

The answer is, I DON’T manage my Internet time.   Some days I cut myself off.   Others… well, that’s where it can get ugly.
But obviously I’m not alone.   As I started my mini-tirade on the unmanageability of it all in this library class, the entire class was nodding in unison and looking both relieved and desperate.
We can’t really do our work as authors without the instant connection of the Internet – and neither, it seems, can people in most other professions.   But there’s got to be a balance somewhere.

Seeing that touch-sensitive computer reminded me of, well, the movie MINORITY REPORT, where Tom Cruise stood in front of a holographic computer and manipulated information through touch…. but even more of George Bernard Shaw’s play BACK TO METHUSELAH, in which (if I recall correctly) human beings had evolved into giant brains, no bodies at all, that communicated telepathically.

Sound a little familiar?    It’s terrifying, I tell you.

On the other hand, at least once the computers are actually implanted in our heads (which I have no doubt they will be) – then we can do all this obsessive Internetting while hiking or walking on the beach.

Okay, so here’s my point.  It’s Spring, right?   And even though I’m from California and Spring Break isn’t traditionally the week-long blowout orgy it is for some of the rest of the country, it is still Spring.   
So please, everyone, get out in the sun.   Roll around in the sand.   Take the computer if you really have to, that’s what wireless is for.   But we still have bodies.   Let’s remember how to use them before we turn into giant interconnected brains.

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12 thoughts on “Connection Overload

  1. Louise Ure

    Alex, I’m with you. I can eat up a good half day before I get through the emails, the blogs, the lists serves, the chat groups and the other flotsam and jetsam of an internet life.

    It is addictive. One article links to another great video. One commenter on a blog wrote something even more interesting two weeks ago. I start trolling through deep waters.

    But I have a new plan. I erased all my bookmarks, and replaced them with the critical six that I’m willing to look at on a daily basis. And I’m allocating only one hour in the morning for all the internet catch up stuff before I start work.

    Today, however, in honor of your post, I’m going to use half of that hour up on the roof deck. It’s been too long since I’ve enjoyed the space. It’s looking raggedly after the winter. But the air is clear and warm today, and view of the GG Bridge awaits.

    Reply
  2. Alex Sokoloff

    You’ve got a better system than I do, Louise. Maybe I’ll follow the Ure plan. Go on a Net diet.

    Absolutely, go up to the roof. I’ve got to work today, but I’m walking to a cafe to do it, damn it. WITHOUT laptop.

    Save yourselves!

    Reply
  3. pari

    I spent the morning in the ER because of an eye injury; I’m fine — it’s just a “corneal abrasion.”

    Basically, a woman who doesn’t have much control with her punches got me in the eye with a fingernail last night at Tae Kwon Do. Argh. I was worried about infection when it started hurting.

    Anywhoooo, I’m visiting the computer a tad only today and am spending the rest of the time reading a book — and when that gets too difficult — I’m closing my eyes and just listening to the world around me.

    Re: computers, I get toooooooooo distracted from work. I think the Ure plan is a good one.

    Instant communication isn’t necessary — and it isn’t necessarily a good thing.

    Reply
  4. Elaine Flinn

    JT beat me to the ‘Amen, sister’ – so I’ll just ditto everything you said, Alex!

    Pari! Take care, okay? Find a fetching eye-patch – you might start a trend. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Linda L. Richards

    Last December, my beloved Mac laptop bit the long hard one. The hard drive and logic board went at pretty much the same moment. I was cut-off at the knees in a way. Especially when the tech dude said, “When did you last back up?” And I had to reply, “Um… 2005?”

    So fast forward a couple of weeks. I have a shiny new MacBook in place and I’m telling my whole tragic story to a good friend. And the friend says something like, “Wow, that’s a fabulous life lesson. It really makes us think about how we depend on our computers so much and how we need to cut back.”

    And I’m, like, “Uh… no. It makes me think I have to learn to back-up.”

    The moral of all this meandering is this: computers and connectivity have gotten to be important, as you say, in most professions. But we *are* the boss of it. Always. And it frees us up to do the other, fabulous things we do.

    I love, for instance, the research I can do now online. I love being able to communicate at the drop of a keystroke. I don’t miss printing manuscripts to send to agents and editors. I don’t miss sorting through all that hard copy mail. I love that my readers can find me easily. I love that I can write back to them without any fuss. And Internet telephony? Rocks!

    Naw: you know, all things considered, there are no downsides. As long as we remember who controls the power switch, I just don’t see the problem.

    Reply
  6. Daniel Hatadi

    I say keep it simple. Murderati … and Crimespace.

    🙂

    But on the subject of the Minority Report ‘user interface’, I saw that as an interesting experiment that would ultimately be impractical. Who wants to hold their arms up all day?

    Reply
  7. Alex Sokoloff

    Really, Daniel? I thought that was one of the most intriguing aspects of the MINORITY REPORT interface – that it was so physical that interacting with your computer could be much more sensual and expressive, like sign language.

    Reply
  8. Daniel Hatadi

    It definitely has the ability for more expression, but I’ve studied Human Computer Interaction at university, as well as dealing with some of the elements of interface design at my day job (touch screens on poker machines).

    It’s a shame, but people’s arms do get tired, so you need to give them a place to rest. Of course, not if you’re a well-trained time cop.

    Reply

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