No doubt people said the same about books

Jonathan Safran Foer: technology is diminishing us
Have you found yourself checking email at dinner, or skipping from book to screen, unable to focus? The closer the world gets to our fingertips, the more we stand to lose

What’s this reading? Isn’t listening to the wisdom of your elders good enough for you?

24 thoughts on “No doubt people said the same about books”

  1. “We find ourselves “playing” with smartphones in a way we never did with the functional handle of a traditional landline phone because, whereas the first phone was designed by engineers thinking in functional terms, the phones in our pockets nowadays are always built in dialogue with marketers who have carefully noted how colour and curve, brightness and texture, heft and size make us feel.”

    No, you ponce. It’s because “smartphones” are actually “pocket computers”. We’ve given them this name because they’re part of the evolution of phones, come with phone contract and are of a similar size. But the smartphone is basically a Sun Sparcstation with nobs on in a little box.

  2. Dunno. There’s some of this chimes with me.
    I actively detest smartphones. I’ve got one for the data connectivity, but that’s all I use it for. Few people know the number. I certainly don’t want them imposing on me by continually Whatsapping me their tedious drivel.
    And I rarely take photographs. My memories contain not only the image but the sounds, smells, tastes, textures, temperatures… A slice of time. An isolated image on a screen is a shallow simulacrum containing little information. If I couldn’t remember it, it couldn’t have been worth remembering, could it? And there’s little there that’s worth sharing. Is there anything more pointless than looking at other people’s piccies?

  3. To add to the above:
    I detest smartphones because they’re crap tech. For a start, everyone I know seems to spend their lives trying to find somewhere to recharge their inadequate batteries. And the portal’s a tiny screen with a clumsy interface. They’re an early iteration of something useful. Maybe an advance on GoogleGlass, but I’d prefer the images straight onto the retina.
    Annotated World I’d go for.

  4. They did – I remember being told that book learning will do you no good.
    Now smart phones give you the notion that you are smart.
    So why are you not rich?

  5. Bloke in North Dorset

    “No, you ponce. It’s because “smartphones” are actually “pocket computers”. We’ve given them this name because they’re part of the evolution of phones, come with phone contract and are of a similar size. But the smartphone is basically a Sun Sparcstation with nobs on in a little box.”

    Indeed. Up to smartphones mobile phones were always designed by RF engineers because above 1GHz and especially at the 2GHz frequencies used for 2G, 3G and 4G RF design is more of a black art than engineering.

    Smartphoes were designed by data engineers who were clueless about radiowhich is why their RF performance is/was so poor. It was alleged that they didn’t meet the GSM receiver specifications.

    A good friend and former employee led the handset testing division of one of the MNOs when they got the first iPhones. This was before launch and they came in perspex boxes so they couldn’t see them or handle them properly. It came as quite a shock when they launched and performance was so poor when users held them to their ear and blocked the the antenna.

    Its still the case that if you need good mobile phone reception go and get one of the old styly phones and not a smartphone.

  6. Bloke in North Dorset

    And that article is just rambling and unconnected thoughts from a man who appears to reaching a mid-life crises and is realising that the world is moving faster than him.

    Welcome to the club.

  7. Interesting comment there, BiND.
    I was out with a mate, last week, trying to find a house out in the boonies. I’m using the car’s onboard GPS system in conjunction with maps downloaded to my laptop & it’s GPS dongle. He’s sitting in the shotgun seat playing with his beloved IFondle & telling me how redundant all my kit is.
    Until we get about 10km from the coastal cities & his data rates collapse & his screen freezes. All the terminal guidance is thanks to my kit.
    Bloody things only work in cities. There’s whole stretches of this country you’re lucky to get 2G voice communication. France is much the same. The house I was living in the UK, for a while. Outskirts of a town plumb in the stockbroker belt. There was only one network provided anything like a reliable voice capability & for data, forget it.

  8. At primary school a teacher once told me off for reading. Which, even at seven/eight years old, shocked me. How on earth could anybody consider reading to be something bad.

  9. BiS: I do a lot of on-site maintainance work at food/retail outlets that just happen to be on the site of a certain branch of HMG. I’m supposed to update the dispatch office via my tablet, but being where I’m working there’s never a connection. And if the computer I’m working on is dead, being where I am there aren’t any other computers I’m allowed to use.

  10. BiS

    Spot on about the bloody batteries.

    The phone was given for one of my early jobs only needed charging about once a week.

    The current work phone is always running out. Barely makes it through a day if you leave it alone, runs down in hours if you actually use it.

    That said, I do like being able to carry around a load of books in it.

  11. Maybe not about books in centuries past as that was before SJW time. But they were saying that about TVs and texting and plain mobile phone. All their fears have been proven wrong.

  12. @SBML
    But there is something in particular about the smartphone. Trying to negotiate a world through all the people with their heads buried in them, for a start. And it’s only a matter of time before I take one out of someone’s hand & smash it. I did not schedule this meeting so I can sit & watch you exchange whatsapps with your fucking girlfriend.

  13. Come to think of it, the smartphone gives a clear demonstration how juvenile many/most people are. If you can’t sit for five minutes without being entertained there’s something seriously wrong with you.

  14. Recently I met an old friend I’d not seen in years. She whipped out her smartphone to show me pictures of her “doggies”. Rather sweet, I thought, and an understandable reaction to her own chicks having flown the nest.

  15. I am old enough to recall the dire warnings about television, back in the days when a second channel was a novelty, these included:

    – TV would ruin the art of conversation
    – TV would be the end of radio and cinema
    – TV would stop children reading
    – TV would ruin children’s eyesight
    – TV would cause children to spend too much time indoors
    – TV would result in more violence

    The ‘experts’ keep more or less the same scripts, just change the headline to suit the times.

  16. Bloke in North Dorset


    3G is interesting. Its basically a voice system with a data overlay. In order to squeeze more spectral efficiency they chose a technology for the air interface (CDMA, don’t worry) that causes the cell coverage to effectively shrink. When I was consulting we advised clients to build the network as if fully loaded using the smaller cell size. However this is more expensive, more sites that didn’t correlate with 2G sites and coverage. This is one reason why people complain about 3G it working some of the time in some places. 3G also has/had problems with resource allocation, deciding when to send you data, and it doesn’t really have much capacity and quickly slows.

    4G is a data system that has been designed to overcome these problems and works quite well. You will see it being rolled out where 3G and even 2G wasn’t, but it will take time.

    The mobile industry is fixated on improving battery life and spends a lot of time and money on research, I can assure you they understand everyone’s pain.

  17. Back in 2003 I had a pocket device that could do everything smartphones can now except do calls. I used it to listen to music, read books, play games, surf the web etc.
    The same stuff I use my mobile phone for now. The technology has moved forwards slightly in 13 years – now the device and phone are in one electronic item that’s a quarter of the price of the old device.
    And bigger memory, bigger card memory I can use, better camera.

    To be honest I expected the tech to move a bit further forward in that time.

  18. @BiND

    The mobile industry is fixated on improving battery life and spends a lot of time and money on research

    I’m sure they do, ditto EV manufacturers, and anyone who can improve energy density by a significant factor, either by mass or by volume, will make billions. But the problem is that battery technology is running close to the limits imposed by electrochemistry, there’s nowhere to go beyond Li. That’s why battery performance has been improving by a few percent per annum rather than following some variant of Moore’s Law. I’ve been hearing about supercapacitors for (it seems like) decades, but there’s still no sign of anything practical.

    if you need good mobile phone reception go and get one of the old style phones and not a smartphone

    Simpler, don’t buy an iPhone. I can always tell if someone calls me from an iPhone, ‘cos they sound like they have their head in a bucket – style trumps performance every time (because Apple understand their marketplace very well).

  19. I can always tell if someone calls me from an iPhone … style trumps performance every time…

    …and the iPhone user can hear YOU just fine – so they effectively offload the performance hit to their friends, family, and co-workers. For them, it’s a win-win, or at least a win-not lose.

  20. People in cities do tend to forget about connectivity issues, I’ve driven for 8 hours with no coverage in the Rockies and often when I’m camping I’m out of touch for days

  21. +1 on battery life issues. Almost every day I read something on or elsewhere that some novel application of nanotech will improve battery capacity & lifetime tenfold, but it’s yet to arrive.

    As for smartphones, I have quite a few apps that do useful things – signal checks, network enumeration, nav and track logging, barcode & nfc card readers, file manager. It does not include whatsapp, facebook, twitter & any other social network crap. That said, I’m not really a people person so apps like that don’t especially attract me. A smartphone can be what you want it to be. Pity that can’t be said of other people’s…

  22. I recently drove a couple of hundred miles from near Death Valley towards LA, and there was no radio signal

    A very strange feeling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *