Saturday, October 02, 2010

Let's Get Lost!

Right up front; I love technology. I’m writing on a MacBook Pro with an iPhone4 synced to it. I have fun with the apps I’ve downloaded. And when I drive, I use an old but reliable Garmin GPS to navigate my way through LA or other new locations. I’m learning to enjoy streaming shows on Hulu and am contemplating dropping cable for AppleTV. I’m not an early adopter of techy things, but follow the advice my sons give me (guide me).

This past summer, when Martha and I returned to France, we leased a Peugeot and were given the option of a GPS for our wanderings. I immediately declined the offer because I (we) like getting lost, guessing where roads go and trying to figure out where we are. Now I do have the advantage of a wife with a keen sense of direction and my willingness to obey her hunch of which road to take.

Relying on a GPS map and voice, I have found, focuses my attention on the map/voice and the immediate road ahead of me and not on all that surrounds me. I lose texture and context and instead focus on a linear point and destination.

In today’s NYT’s, Edward Rothstein writes an article that encapsulates my reluctance to become over-dependent on my iPhone apps and other appliances. He noted how people in museums were more dialed into their devices than the art in front of them or around them. It’s the phenomenon that Jerry Mander wrote of in his classic book “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television” back in the 70’s. The issue is mediated reality. As opposed to directly observing and participating in life, we have it packaged, sanitized and predigested for easy consumption. And, after seeing something through that lens, we actually think we have been there and done that.

So I think I’ll leave my nice iPhone off when we go to the next museum and maybe I can get lost!


At 5:48 PM , Anonymous Jim Johnson said...

Good thoughts Don - you should check out the story (with videos) of Joshua Bell's concert in the subway (if you have not seen it already). Here's the link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html


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