Monday, March 1, 2010

Techno madness?

Tales of a techno gone mad

University of Alaska Southeast Media Communications professor Jason Ohler once taught our class how to blog but warned that when we plug into a new technology we unplug from something else.

Like a Jedi student, I took the technology with some awe and awareness. Like so many others, I am so plugged in now that I might blow a circuit. But is our quality of life better? Are we less stressed? Or are we instead saturated and over-stimulated? Here are some observations of life with new gadgets that are supposed to make our lives easier.


The good: We added Digital Video Recording capability to our cable, and so far I'm thrilled. We save time by automatically recording entire series or movies and then watching them later, without commercials.

My first Olympics with DVR has been different. Growing up in the dark ages, our family gathered around our television set to see figure skating drama unfold, in real time. Commercials were a time for processing and discussions.

Now we already know the medal winners from the Internet, so I click on my recorded Olympics series, fast forward to the medal-winning performances and call it a night. No more anticipation, just the best, forget the rest.

The bad: I think there is something cool about millions of people watching the same thing at the same time. The ups and downs are part of the experience and everyone gets their moment in the spotlight.

Another problem is limited disc space. When we start to max out, my husband and I start secretly deleting each others shows. Does my husband really have time to watch five episodes of Battle of the Bods or Jim Rome's smack talk? Delete. Ah, 5-percent more disc space.


The good: My favorite iPhone app is - nerd alert - the stop-watch and timer. I consider my time-management extreme having gone from someone easily distracted by shiny objects to timing everything so I don't space out for a precious second. It takes me 4 minutes to fry an egg, 5 minutes to drive from Vanderbilt to JDHS, 8 minutes to fill a perfect bath, 9 minutes to blow dry my hair and 6 minutes to get from my front door to work. My friends are worried about me, but I know they are using the information for their own time management.

My second favorite application is the calendar. I input commitments, then alert myself 1 to 2 days before the event and then again one hour before. I've also started programming my husband's phone. On Friday, his phone will ring at 7:30 a.m., reading "take out the garbage," then again at 7:45 a.m. when he's forgotten. I program his phone to nag him for me. Brilliant!

My third most-used application is the microphone. I do spontaneous story interviews, record million-dollar ideas, things to do, where I parked.

The bad: The downside to the calendar is I'm either extremely punctual or a no-show. If I've forgotten to program something in, it doesn't exist. Sorry for the missed school work day!

Pretty soon I will be hunched over like a legislator or politician, constantly typing into a device. My memory brain cells will become weak.

Jump drive

The good: I have a jump drive, a disk that can hold lots of data, around my neck in case I have a chance to do some writing. This has sprung me from being tied down to a desk. My documents are accessible and I don't have to email things to myself.

The bad: Wearing a jump drive instead of a necklace is nerdy and a step toward becoming a robot. If I saw R2D2 or C3PO rolling down the street, they would probably register me as family.


The good: Blogging is a modern-day journal, and I love to share my thoughts and ideas. I save trees while keeping my writing skills honed. Blogs could lead to potential income.

The bad: I'm a closet blogger. Once I learned how to create a blog, I became addicted and maintain too many, anonymously. The day will come when I will share them.


So what are we unplugging from with these new connections? Friends and family? If we stay up late blogging and catching up on shows, are we tired the next day and frazzled from zooming through complete series of shows without pausing for reflection? Should it be more about energy management than time?

I don't text and drive, but millions plug into texting and unplug from driving then crash into people while typing - "not much - just driving ... "

All texting drivers say they are different, that they can do it. Oops - my timer went off. Time to end this story.

• Courtney Nelson is a Juneau resident breaking it down with sassy, sensible truths. She can be reached at

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