iPods Are Good

The BBC delivers a more or less idiotic article on the new Apple iPhone and technology in general. (Link)

The basic gist of the article is that certain people, especially 77 year old Luddites, don’t seem to want a new iPhone. In fact, the Luddite in question doesn’t want an iPod either.

What a fucking surprise. This guy, who says that he doesn’t know what the iPhone does, “rather like(s) not wanting one.” He doesn’t want an iPod because he doesn’t want to walk around listening to music. He “likes silence.”

So, is the BBC interviewing 77 year-olds to get a “man on the street” idea of what people think of new technology? Or music, for that matter? It’s ridiculous.

And of course, the guy has no idea. First of all, most people don’t have a “silence” option. My options during my daily commute are usually something along the lines of:

* Schizophrenic Rant from most likely non-dangerous person on my left

* Angry rap lyrics from the most likely non-non-dangerous guy on my right

* Ear-splitting, but incomprehensible, loudspeaker announcements every three minutes

* iPod

Walking on the street itself, of course, I have different choices, including Rumbling Garbage Truck, Beeping Back-up Noise, and Muffler-less Motorcycle.

But you know what, most of that is beside the point. I love music, but the last three things I listened to were:

1. Part 10 of “12 Byzantine Rulers,” a series of lectures given by Lars Brownworth.

2. A panel discussion between an Israeli politician and European diplomats, downloaded from the University Channel (link on the left of the main page).

3. “Looter’s Follies” by Destroyer. (Ok, that’s music, but you get the point.)

And I don’t listen to it while walking around nearly as much as I do while driving in the car, or doing the dishes. Luddite-man likes the swish-swish-clang of soapy dishes.

It’s ok with me if people don’t want to listen to music or podcasts. But they shouldn’t kid themselves that they’re above it. They just don’t like music, or knowledge, or are scared and ignorant.

On to the iPhone. It’s not amazing because it’s an iPod. It’s amazing because it’s touch controlled, and doesn’t need to lose space to have a keyboard. Making it an iPod is great for people who want a phone and also want an iPod, but that’s a different story.

Anyway, this is a ramble, and I don’t feel like fixing the logical flow. So I’m heading right back to the article.

It says that Luddite-man isn’t alone. A survey shows that 50% of British adults feel overwhelmed by new technology and have trouble with all the new jargon.

The problem is that feeling overwhelmed isn’t the same as not wanting, or appreciating, the new things you can do with these devices. Of course people feel overwhelmed. There’s a lot going on. Hell, I’m overwhelmed half the time. What does that have to do with it?

And then come the comments. I suddenly am out of time, so I won’t bother too much. I’ll just bother a little.

These people say, “oh, what’s wrong with the world that we need mobile phones to talk to each other? Why, if someone needs to talk to me, they can call on my regular phone.”

Why is that better? Isn’t a “regular” phone just like a mobile phone, except that you have to be home to use it? How is it more natural or personal? I bet these same people would’ve said the same things when the phone was invented. “Why, just write me a letter!”

And here’s a beauty:

“I disagree with those who say that technology improves communication. Many people now use mobile phones and MP3s so much that they have lost the skill of communicating on a personal, face to face level, and I believe this is having an adverse effect on society.”

Many people have lost the skill of communicating on a personal level? Really? Who? Who are these many people? What, they come up to you and are unable to speak?

And by the way: MP3s? Do you even know what MP3s are? How are MP3s affecting the ability to communicate? This is a perfect indication of this person’s qualifications to talk about this issue.

The Luddite-man said that he was worried, too. Can’t you just say that you’re not interested in mobile phones without saying that you’re WORRIED about people who are?

I’m in a bad mood.

8 Responses to iPods Are Good

  1. JB January 15, 2007 at 12:45 am #

    I believe that cell phones and computers and the Internet and such are one avenue for people to exercise their disdain membrane.

    We’ve all got one, and it surfaces in various ways. I have disdain for people who like Clay Aiken. People who read literature exclusively often have disdain for people like me, who mostly read trash novels.

    My neighbor has a certain amount of disdain for technology, and an inverse love of “the mountains.” If I went to the mountains, I’d spend my time sitting under a tree playing Bubble Pop on my Treo.

    Disdain is timeless, and always there for a newsman looking to “discover” that the New Thing isn’t loved by everyone, and in fact there are lots of people who get off on actively disliking poor ol’ New Thing.

    Lots of people who don’t have TV, or don’t have cable television, or don’t eat meat, or have only one cooking pot, or use CFL lightbulbs or don’t have a dryer but hang their clothes out to dry, or don’t have a dishwasher, or don’t have a garbage disposal, or recycle religiously, or ride a bike to work, or won’t have sex before marriage, or don’t drink coffee, or don’t smoke, or don’t drink, have disdain for the opposing population. I tried to stick some positive things in there, amongst the “don’ts.”

    And of course it’s not everyone who carries this disdain. Just lots of people. I didn’t have a dishwasher for a long time, and now I do, but when I didn’t have one I didn’t notice the lack. My icemaker on the other hand, you’ll have to pry from my cold, dead hand. That’s right, I’m going to die with my hand stick in the freezer. This I pledge.

  2. BruceS January 15, 2007 at 6:11 pm #

    A bad mood? Really? It’s a good thing you’re so restrained!
    JB: you can have my icemaker. They’re useless. Only an idiot would want one. I can get all the ice I need from trays, which don’t leak heat, and don’t take nearly the freezer space. And don’t even get me started on smokers—bunch of polluting, stinking drug addicts. How’s that?

  3. weeklyrob January 15, 2007 at 10:36 pm #

    Nice disdain, Bruce! I give it an 8.

    Still, people who ride a bike to work at least probably understand the pleasures of driving. But these techNO ™ people have no idea what they’re disdaining.

  4. weeklyrob January 15, 2007 at 10:52 pm #

    Not to say that I don’t completely agree with you, JB. I’m just adding extra disdain for these particular disdainers.

    I do find it hard to understand how intelligent, educated adults can take up smoking. But some people do. [I totally understand how they can continue to smoke once they’ve taken it up.]

    As for me, personally, I’m usually too busy thinking about how great I am to bother disdaining other people for not being more like me. I DO wish that fewer people would throw trash on the ground and such, but that’s not my looking down on their lifestyle choices. It’s recognizing the point where their freedom affects my peace.

  5. BruceS January 16, 2007 at 1:05 pm #

    An 8!? Thanks! With a little time and effort, I could probably disdain at an expert level.
    You know I’m an avid bicyclist, but I’ve not ridden to work in decades. I strongly considered it over this previous Autumn, but decided the hassle, risk of bike theft, helmet hair, sweat, etc. was worse than the drive and park option. I *do* like to ride paths along freeways around rush hour, though—it’s great fun to be passing long lines of cars.
    I think the main cause of starting drug use, whether nicotene, ethanol, or less dangerous stuff, is curiosity. Young people are especially vulnerable to this, as they are less cynical and jaded. I tried a few myself, though these days I mainly stick to methalated xanthines and ethanol. I’ve smoked several cigars (from birth celebrations) and two or three packs of unfiltered ciggarettes. I found the ritual side of it intriguing, but never felt any drug effect and hated the stale ashtray mouth.
    I too am too great to spend much time disdaining. My wife and others have tole me they’re are amazed how easily I talk to anyone. I’m less amazed, because I’ve found that strangers are usually quite willing to be friendly, and none so far have shot me for saying “hello”, commenting on how adorable their children are, or even contributing to their ongoing conversation. I’ve spent time talking to street bums, people who appear to have mental problems, and others that most people would disdain and avoid. I’m clearly a really great person, with many admirable attributes, including my enormous ego.

  6. Anonymous January 17, 2007 at 12:31 am #

    WIth the inflated egos in here, I’ll do my best to simply express my opinion.

    I don’t want an iPod. I don’t care to listen to stuff while commuting; I’m too busy reading or napping (my trips on the Metro are generally quiet, aside from the guy who shows up every once in a while to treat us to a hymn; HIM I want to throw out the nearest emergency exit). I don’t really care whether others use them or want them, as long as I’m not forced to listen to the tinny dregs that leak out of their headsets, so it’s not a subject of disdain. I’m not sure where that puts me in your rant, Rob.

    I don’t watch much TV, which sort of amuses me. I used to watch loads of shows, but one by one either I lost interest or they went off the air. I do think that there are many more stimulating ways to spend my time, but again, if you want to veg out in front of the tube as your way of relaxing, go for it.

    As for people who won’t lift a finger to do the simplest things to protect the environment, like recycling where they actually come to your house to pick it up, I do have disdain. Call me crazy.

  7. BruceS January 17, 2007 at 12:49 pm #

    Anonymous: I hope you realize the inflated egos are a bit of a joke.

    On the leaking earbuds: Last semester, I had a student in the last row (of a fairly large “stadium-style” classroom) who had his volume up so high *I* could hear it at the front. Guessing that this just *might* be disturbing to students 1/10th as far away, I got his attention enough to ask him to turn it down. My iPod won’t get that loud—maybe he had something else going on.

    Recycling: here, as in many places, the garbage company charges extra to pick up recyclables. Why? Because most aren’t worth recycling. It costs more to recycle than to use virgin materials. I think the only exception is metal. In another community where I used to live, they pushed a big campaign for recycling. After a couple of months, the local news did an expose, showing that most of the materials consumers had carefully separated into three bins was just put in the dump with the rest of the garbage. There wasn’t sufficient market for things like newspapers. Consider what will happen if everything is simply put in the dump until it’s worth something. At some point, dumps will be mined for their recyclable contents.

  8. weeklyrob January 17, 2007 at 3:42 pm #

    Anonymous (if that’s even your real name):

    I would heartily recommend the iPod for work as well! Or for the car. And, believe it or not, the place I use it the most: at home, plugged into my speakers. It’s just a lot easier to play music or lectures from the iPod than it is to search through stacks of CDs.

    But you don’t fit at all in my rant, because I was ranting about people who are worried and upset about other people using technology to make their lives easier or more enjoyable. If you’re not bothered by me, then I’m not bothered by you.

    I am annoyed by hearing what comes out of other people’s headphones. I believe that I heard it called, “earspray.” My headphones are in-canal, so ain’t nobody gonna hear a peep from them.

    What’s funny is that I don’t watch TV (no cable, and very little reception), I don’t use my cell phone more than a few calls a month, and I generally am a huge fan of sitting outside somewhere reading a book. But I do get annoyed by people who complain about things they know so little about.

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