Every now and then I like to think about how I could remove different technologies from my life. The sad truth of the matter is most are here to stay, from my cell phone to my flat panel to my digital camera. It just seems like in every category I investigate, the technology makes life easier/better in some way. My digital camera and high definition TV are unquestionably better than older, analog versions. My cell phone certainly lets me keep in touch with my family easier, and also makes work communications better. But what about the laptop?
My laptop (currently a MacBook, formerly a Sony Vaio SZ-VGN460N, until I realized how terrible it was) comes home at night, and travels with me to work in the morning. It’s likely carried along to 80% or so of my meetings, and also travels with me when I go see friends or family. It comes on 100% of business trips. So the $25K question (which these days should be more like the $100K question if you count inflation) is: how could I get rid of it?
First, I’d need a computer at home and at work. The work one would need some type of remote desktop technology. I’d probably need to use gmail or another Web-based email service, although I’ve already adopted Google Calendar so that’s not a big deal. I use Google Docs from time to time, but I don’t believe they are sufficient for the more powerful spreadsheet or presentation forms, and would be concerned there. That said, about 90% of my workday is spent doing email/phone calls/meetings, the rest is working on some form of a document. I think I’d get by without a significant drop in productivity.
However, I’d need some solution for the meetings I go to, and I’d be hesitant to rely on toting a USB key for all documents I might need. I’d also be a little concerned about the appearance of professionalism, but maybe I’d just start wearing a tie or something to get around that. After all, not everyone in technology has to look like a schlub all the time, right?
My flight time would definitely show a drop in productivity, but to be honest, I typically watch reruns of Arrested Development while in air, with a smattering of email sending and inbox clearing between episodes. I’d definitely read more (without a Kindle) on these trips.
As for the personal time, I think it’s safe to say a little less laptop wouldn’t hurt. Yeah, I wouldn’t be able to look something up on IMDB the second I finish the movie anymore, but that’s not the worst thing, eh? If my wife ever gets around to reading my blog again I’m sure she’d be agreeing too (right, hon?).
If I had to give up some major piece of technology in my life, I know that the cell phone and digital camera would both remain. I think just about everything else becomes pretty optional. But since I don’t have to, I think the MacBook lives on in this house. Well, that is until I replace it with a better one this year sometime, because after all, that’s technology.