Saturday, June 27, 2009

Progress (not!)

A surprisingly large chunk of writing happens away from desk and computer. Stories and characters evolve. Plot holes rear their ugly heads (yeah, a horribly mixed metaphor -- it amuses me). Exciting wrinkles suggest themselves. Those are all more likely to happen by free association than while pounding the keyboard. Long walks are an important part of the process.

So: weather permitting, I walk daily. The neighbors know that if I fail to notice them, I'm in a writing trance and not snubbing them.

And now about progress ... cell phones are wonderful technology. I truly believe that. I worked at Bell Labs when the early ideas for cell-phone networks were under development. Cell phones certainly make it easier to stay in touch. But is always being in touch good or bad? That depends on the context.

I won't go into the general argument about cell-phone use in cars. People spend hours a day in their cars. In that much time, maybe unanticipated or urgent matters DO come up to merit the increased risk of distraction.

Which finally brings me to that ... not! My neighborhood is a hundred or so houses, a few roads. Lots of cul-de-sacs and no through streets. And yet it's a rare walk where I don't see someone driving in the neighborhood talking on a cell.

Driving in my neighborhood -- and countless thousands of residential areas like it -- you are necessarily within a minute of your departure or your arrival. You do NOT need to be driving one-handed, clutching a cell phone. Curvy roads ... parked cars ... cars backing out of driveways ... joggers ... kids and pets at play ... pay attention to the ROAD, why don't you? Call before you set out, or call back when, seconds later, you arrive.

(Am I slamming my neighbors? No. We all drive more defensively when we know the kids running about. But visiting friends, trawling realtors, yard-sale hunters, delivery vans, yard service trucks ... there is the problem.)

Cell phones are great things -- but like all technology , they have their place. Sometimes, that's in pocket or purse.


Catreona said...

I agree, Ed. But, I gthink this is a generational thing, and an argument we are destined to lose.

In a project I'm currently working on (the one with the teleporting hero), the com is built in, IOW biotech. I haven't addressed the problems that might cause or the implications, except very vaguely. Thanks for bringing them to my attention, though they're periferal at the moment... or maybe not. Hmmm...

On another note: I'd give anything to be able to take solitary walks, long or short. Enjoy yours to the max while you can.

Edward M. Lerner said...

I'm unhappy when the weather does not cooperate.

- Ed