TRIGGER WARNING: This piece contains the usual masturbatorial self-introspection and ultimate enlightenment found in all personal essays about technology and how it affects the author. Don’t worry—at least I’m not droning on about changing my social media habits.
I watched yesterday’s Apple keynote. I watch almost all of them. As disillusioned as I am with the tech blogosphere, I’m still a huge fan of technology and, in particular, technology coming out of Apple. [INSERT LIST OF APPLE DEVICES I OWN TO SHOW I’M QUALIFIED TO DISCUSS APPLE, EVEN THE NEGATIVE ASPECTS.]
But as my life changes, my needs change even more. I’ve been clamoring for a bigger iPhone ever since my wife got her Lumia 1020. I’m 6’3” and have large, Mansfieldian hands, so the iPhone 6 Plus is exactly what I want from a phone. My MacBook Air is a tool for searching the web and running Scrivener. I no longer need the horespower (or footprint) afforded by the 15” MacBook Pro. I don’t use my iPad as much as I’d like, though I expect that to change with iOS 8 and eventually, Scrivener for iOS.
The Apple Watch on the other hand is not on my radar. Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it’s futuristic. Yes, it’s a gleaming achievement in the art of telling people what they want, but it’s not for me. Not to peer too deeply into my navel, I’m trying to be less reachable. I enjoy checking Twitter throughout the day, but on my schedule. I love that I have numerous ways to communicate with people all over the world, but only when I want to. When I come home, I like to leave my phone on my desk and spend time with my wife and son. Let the notifications chime. Let the calls buzz. I can’t hear them and I love it that way.
An Apple Watch, however, is an obligation. If I’m at work and it dings with an @ mention or a new text, I’m going to want to answer it. It’s going to disrupt my concentration. And if I’m with my family, I don’t want to be bothered. It’ll be pretty hard to ignore something vibrating against my wrist. The accusatory alert tone is going to ring in my ears and urge me to respond. It isn’t something I can just turn off or leave on my desk and go about my day. That’s not its intended purpose. It was designed to keep the user in the loop and honestly, I’m done being in it.
I write first drafts of my fiction in analog formats—on typewriters and with pen and paper—so I’m not fed with a glut of notifications or compelled to initiate some of my own while I’m writing. My phone goes into airplane mode and I’m pulled into the words on the page. Being able to shut out the world around me goes a long way for my sanity. I embrace quiet. I prefer solitude. I’m an introvert…and I have a general disdain for other people.
I’ll leave the $350 price tag alone for another day 1. People will spend it, though if the iPhone and iPad are any indication, first generation Apple products don’t exactly have the longest lifespan, so I’d encourage those hell bent on getting one to wait for version two.
I know I’m in the minority when it comes to tech. I want just enough to get my work done without it getting in my way. A standard watch doesn’t get in my way 2. In fact, owning several different watches seems more flexible to me than one smartwatch. I can switch up the styles to go with a particular suit or outfit. There is no “one style fits all” for me. I may be able to change the face and the band on the Apple Watch, but it’ll still be the same device on my wrist, and no matter how much 14k gold Apple crams into it, it still won’t have the cachet of a Rolex or Omega.
But I’m not here to disparage the Apple Watch. It looks great. It’s exciting. It’s pushing a niche product category populated by limited and poorly executed devices from Samsung and Motorola into the mainstream. People will want this device. They’ll line up around the block for it. I’m definitely going to check one out at the Apple Store when it’s finally released, but I’m not going to buy one. At least, not yet. Maybe one day all our communication will occur on the watch and I’ll have no choice but to buy one. Or perhaps its uses will extend beyond the obvious and I’ll actually become more engaged with the world by owning one. We’ll see.
Until then, I don’t need it. I’ll admire it from afar. I’ll probably feel a twinge of jealousy at people who get one, but I’m not sold on it. The phone is more than enough for me. I’m good.
For that money I can buy a very good analog watch that will outlast my next several computers. ↩
I’m looking forward to everyone who used to say, “I don’t wear a watch. I just pull out my phone to check the time,” to now say unironically, “I don’t have to pull out my phone anymore. I can check the time on my wrist!” ↩
Stryker Thompson’s mother always wanted to be a writer, but had to shelve her manuscript to care for her family when he was very young. Before he graduated high school, he decided to do something special for her to show his appreciation:
He casually asked his mom to send him files of her chapters, one by one. Maybe he’d read them, but he wasn’t promising.
Of course, he read every one, in the evenings and on weekends, in between studying for seven AP classes and serving as captain of the debate team and pondering German philosophers Nietzsche and Heidegger.
He fixed typos, added page breaks and indents, deleted extra spaces between words. “I got into a groove,” he said, “but it was very meticulous work.”
Warning: this story will leave you teary-eyed. You can buy Petrie’s book, At the End of Magic, on Amazon. I started reading the first few pages and she’s quite a talent.
NPR’s Robert Siegel interviews The Times Diary editor Patrick Kidd about the paper’s decision to pump the sounds of mechanical typewriters into its newsroom:
SIEGEL: I’m sure it is nostalgic to some of the older folks in the newsroom, but what do the younger journalists who didn’t experience this sound in the past make of it?
KIDD: Well, I’m in my late ’30s. I never worked on mechanical typewriters. I think on day one it was mildly irritating. (Laughter) But, as it went on - it becomes soothing actually; you get used to the rhythm. You start typing in concert with it. I think there were still some colleagues who’d get annoyed but, actually, my desk is the closest to the speakers and I - it’s a bit of fun.
I love this. Free idea for the fine folks at Coffitivity: A “1930’s newsroom” setting.
Pen Paper Ink Letter has a great overview of the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, which has quite a following online. I recently purchased my own Traveler’s Notebook and can’t wait to really dig into it. I plan on using one notebook for fiction drafts, one for story ideas and notes, and one for to-do lists and random scribblings.
Publishers, authors, and bookstores are chock full of great boards, from literary quotes to classic bookcovers. It’s easy to get lost perusing these.