Depending on how much your loved ones spent on you this Christmas, chances are you have a new electronic thingamajig that does some nifty trick. I want to take a moment to ponder doodads – why are they so much fun, can/should one doodad do everything, and are we getting too dependent?
First, a Gizmo Review:
Cellphone – be reachable by phone again; as well as receive text messages, oh yeah, and it’s a camera too, because your cellphone, unlike your digital camera, will automatically adhere to whatever you take with you all the time
mp3/mp4 player – the Apple iPod or the Creative Zen, welcome to gigs of storage for music, photos, movies, and stuff, this is an entertainment center – think solitaire on steroids
flash drive – use this as backup for your computer or as an extra drive, and then take your files with you to another computer
Bluetooth – this headset syncs up compatible devices when it comes within range, so whichever computer you’re at knows who you are
PDAs – no longer public displays of affection, this acronym has been co-opted for personal digital assistant – Blackberry, Treo, Palm Pilot are a few – send your e-mail, access the internet and combine functions of the above devices in one handy device
The funny thing about these doodads is that once you start using them, you start to wonder how you ever functioned without them. So that brings up my next question – are we Inspector Gadget, with the preparedness of the Boy Scout saving the day with our gear – or are we the Borg, giving up autonomy for the sake of being in sync through our implants? I would say it depends on why we use these devices. I don’t worry about my work reaching me on my cellphone because I’m not on call when I’m not at work. My boss however is on call, and he groans about having to answer e-mail on his handheld device when he’s out of the office. I don’t like competing with someone’s iPod if I’m trying to speak to him/her, but then again I do like walking to work to a beat. Then there’s the question of whether these doodads are user-friendly. I’ve heard plenty of people complain about texting because of the pain of getting the right letters. I tried Bluetooth and had to return it to the store because I didn’t get the whole press and hold the button thing. I can see why you’d want to access your e-mail all of the time, but then do you really want to be accessible by e-mail all the time?
The whole tricorder-aspect of the portable device appeals to me. I like the idea of having flexibility about how I communicate. And as the flight attendants so wisely tell us, their switches do have an “off” position.