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The Good, the Bad, and the Fuzzy of Technology (or the ‘Women and the Web’ Edition)

Continuing our Quantum Computing Crash (Collision?) Course to get you ready for our upcoming performance of BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL (help us BUILD A NUTSHELL HERE) –

Just read a pair of fantastic pieces in the Guardian detailing how modern technology is empowering women around the world (check them out here and here). Living in New York City, we’re surrounded by bells and whistles. Bang. Zoom. Pop. Flash. Alert. Alert. Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! Achtung! Achtung! Sometimes, it makes me want to throw the whole thing out the window and scream (to quote Edina Monsoon from ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS) “GIVE ME BACK MY LIFE!”

And then you are reminded how much we take the bells and whistles for granted.

Phone-AddictA few weeks ago, I received a severe weather alert on my phone (the smartphone I begrudgingly carry because so few people have landlines in New York City anymore) during my morning commute on the elevated train. The phone started buzzing and I had to fumble into my messenger bag to see what the alert was.

Because I’ve been making a real effort to not live on my phone. I’ve been making a real effort to read good, old-fashioned books on the subway ride into Manhattan each morning. Not a Kindle. Not an iPad. Not the news on my phone. A real, honest-to-God paper book with a cover I have to fold over so I can keep the book in one hand and the subway pole in my other hand.

Is it better for me? Is it healthier?

I don’t know.

I like to think my soul isn’t powered by the low-level blue-light constantly emitted from all of our personal handheld device displays. That glow on the face as someone peers into their iPad or iPhone screen searching emails, texts, missed calls, Wikipedia entries, box-scores, etc.

But I have been on a computer all morning. I’m banging this out on a computer right now. Right now, that soft glow is on my face, reflected in my eye-glasses, and the light from the internet is feeding my soul.

So, maybe reading paper books is a way for me to take a break from a world that’s fully automated.

I have to read forward. I have to turn my own pages.

Analogue romantic?

Maybe.

But I have my digital music library that is obscenely large and would never fit in my apartment if it was on vinyl. I’ve been victim of the Hulu wormhole from time to time, all made possible by streaming video (the Criterion Collection I’ve enjoyed many times, all made available through the service, would also not fit in my apartment if I had them in DVD/Blu-Ray form).

So…yes. My relationship with technology is complicated. “Smart” technology. Even more so.

So…As my phone alerted me of the impending storm (a message sent from the local weather bureau), everyone else’s phone in the same subway car sounded the same alarm. Everyone in the subway car looked to their phones to see what the alert us. Like something out of a disaster movie. The oncoming storm and the authorities alerting us of the danger. Everyone was so plugged in. So many bells and whistles.

If this was truly going to be a storm for the ages, might this be the warning we needed? Next station stop, make for cover. Find the low-ground. Wait out the storm.

Everyone looked to their phone as if the alert was another piece of spam in an unending string of alerts.

Everyone was so plugged in. So many bells and whistles.

Did we all take it for granted?

Was it just a macabre wonder?

Or did it show us how safe and connected we could all be?

Technology in good hands saves the world entire.

Reading the articles reminded me of perspective. The bells and whistles we take for granted might offer these women possibilities beyond what they previously thought attainable.

The internet can make the world a small village.

A small village is easier to influence and easier to connect. Help. Change.

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