Saturday, August 28, 2010

Digital Minimalism

This article from London Evening Standard is the second such article I've run across in the past weeks.  The idea is to completely jettison all of your stuff -- except for MacBook, iPad, and iPhone. You keep your books, music, photos on your local portable computer and "in the cloud" and you don't have anything else to weigh you down. The other article described someone more extreme: the guy had only enough clothes to fill a backpack and he kept his electronic gear, including a couple of external hard drives, in a second bag. He claimed he slept on friends' couches and didn't have his own apartment. Don't remember where I saw this article. I'm trying to decide if it reminds me of a monastic environment -- many clerical and religious orders take vows of poverty and own nothing of their own, eating and living in communion with their order. Or is it more like a kind of updated William Gibson Neuromancer (published in 1984) scenario, in which the protagonists live a hand-to-mouth existence, unwillingly forced upon them by an amphetamine addiction in which they really "exist" only in the "consensual hallucination" that is the world wide computer and communications network. These two scenarios represent light and darkness, respectively, to me but both are intriguing in some fashion.

This, along with my digital longevity post from back in May 2010, inform (or exacerbate?) my weird enthusiasm for the cloud in general and Google in particular. I could be a digital nomad if I didn't have a family and a mortgage and a job and worries about saving enough money for retirement. At least I like to imagine being one. And my MacBook, iPad, and iPhone definitely make me feel cool!  :-)  Maybe a college student has an existence like this, living in dormitories and eating in cafeterias and lugging his laptop computer to and from the library to study. I loved being a college student although the thought of actually being one again is not-so-hot. Maybe I'll take classes at the local university when I retire, if that is even possible once I get to be that age, many years from now.

P.S. If you have read Neuromancer and like it, try White Light by Rudy Rucker to induce even more dreamlife bizarreness when you sleep at night.

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