- Max Frisch
I love me my technology. I'm not a hardcore codemonkey like many of my friends are, but the Internet is an integral part of my daily life. More than that: it is my daily life. I work on the web, I get my news from the web, I interact with my friends over the web, I write reviews on the web, I play games over the web, I write my blog on the web; I spend more time in front of a computer than I do anything else, with the exception of sleeping... and even that's probably only neck and neck.
But the fascination doesn't end at the boundaries of my online existence. I want to know what's changing, what's new; the latest gadgets, the latest phones, the latest possibilities. I don't even want to own them, particularly, although the sweet siren call of the iPhone is becoming harder and harder to resist. I just want to know what's out there, to see how far the boundaries of potential have been pushed back today. And more than that, I want to see how the infinite adaptability of humankind has coped with today's latest piece of tech - how we've taken something and given it new life, new meaning; new purpose its designers never intended. How we've shaped something, let it grow beyond its humble origins.
And how it's shaped us. It's a Newtonian law: every force has an equal and opposite reaction. It's quantum physics: you can't observe something without changing it - without it changing you, whether you want it to or not. Society is in flux, unable to keep up with the implications of the new possibilities opening up in front of us. How did we keep in contact before mobile phones, before email? How did we find our way to a strange address before satnavs? How did we organise parties before Facebook? There were ways, of course there were; but we look back at them now and think: how primitive, how slow, how inefficient. Isn't it wonderful, how from Switzerland my friend James can organise his Scottish wedding among guests living in Exeter, Southampton, Kent and Winterthur? How he can find and hire the castle he and his fiancée have dreamed of; how they can discover in humanism the perfect philosophical match for their relationship; how they can have wedding rings made to their individual tastes by a jeweller in Cambridge; how they can search the world of literature for books to suit each and every guest, and quotations for each with which to tease and guide their friends and family. This wedding would have been impossible without technology, without the constant innovation and relentless invention which drives the changing face of the world.
But after we'd scoured the 'net to find the cheapest hostels, flights and hire cars, and googlemapped our way to the middle of snowhere, all the mobile signal fell away and we were alone in the quiet. And it was so quiet, so peaceful and still, a century removed from the frantic dynamism of modern life. All through the wedding, through the whole two days we stayed at Dalmunzie, no twittering beep or whistle disturbed the peace. People laughed and joked together, really together, face to face. They exchanged remembrances, disagreed and reconciled their conflicting memories, forming a shared reality and reinforcing the bonds of friendship in the oldest ways. Humanity isn't even close to evolving beyond its hardwired emotional responses, and there's an intensity to proximity and physical contact that no amount of email or IM banter can compensate for the loss of.