In thrall then & now: So what’s new?

people with gadgets on bts

The other morning on the BTS Skytrain I found myself bemused at the sight of nearly every one of my fellow passengers in thrall to digital devices. Each was oblivious to all the others as they pawed away at Facebook pages, e-mails, tweets, games, music and phone calls. One young renegade was actually reading a book.

More than bemused, I was struck by the sense I was living in a science-fiction story. But then, resisting the impulse to check … Read more

Getting away from it all: Now & then


Sometimes, e.g. when I look around a Skytrain car and see people’s faces lit in the unholy glow of iPad screens (see “Digital bedlam”)—when I notice the wires dangling from people’s heads, the animated conversations with invisible presences on the part of people sporting no visible gadgetry at all, the poke-poking and thumbing of games and messages and searches for the meaning of life—it seems to me that these changes in our behavior have been sudden. Just last … Read more

Digital civility rools, or doesn’t

Vertically walleyed: A new affliction, an occupational hazard for the digitally connected and cool, a neologism of sorts coined right here and right now.

“My students tell me about an important new skill: it involves maintaining eye contact with someone while you text someone else; it’s hard, but it can be done.”

That’s from a great NY Times article by Sherry Turkle, “The Flight from Conversation.” And this advice has expanded my notion of what’s fittin’ and … Read more

From absent presence to omnipresence: “I am my iPhone” (local DTAC slogan) to “We are my iPad”

In Thailand, the iPad mostly remains a rumor of digital utopia on the other side of the world. But travelers to those distant parts are beginning to arrive back here with their über-gadgets.

And they are harbingers of epidemic social change. These carriers of the current Digital Grail—and soon, I suspect, they’ll include everybody in the world with a few hundred dollars to spend—behave as though they carry new-born children, and they’re prone to dropping these items on the … Read more