November 15, 2008

I dreamed last night that I was talking with Michael Crichton, during a conference at one of those tropical resorts which separates out a fragile chlorinated pool mere metres from the ocean. As so often at these sorts of events, the participants had divided themselves into pairs and trios and small circles of hangers-on, and the broad mill of those who had come to hear and felt vaguely that they ought to be talking and networking, but knew no one there to break the ice for them.

He and I were one of the pairs. Neither of us had known the other before, but we had interests similar enough that we found common notes immediately, which freed us to talk of other things.

We spoke of technologies and how we had come to think of them as natural and inevitable, ignoring all the while how they changed us and shaped our thinking. I did not speak then of how we were becoming adequate multitaskers at the expense of dedicated, focused thought: but we did speak of small devices we were coming to take for granted, such as GPS locators, and how our own direction senses were atrophying as a result. He said that no matter the consequence, we would refuse to release our gadgets unless we were forced, and that no government would ever legislate such limits.

I wondered how long it would be, with individual buildings becoming ever more like microcosmic cities, before we would be unable to navigate our own office space without something resembling a GPS device. He laughed and said that if things ever got to that point, maybe legislation would be introduced after all, but he doubted it.

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