Thursday, May 27, 2004

Technically Nonsense

My friend Harlan sent me this article.

I love the term "surfer's voice". I've had those conversations, occasionally with folks who didn't even have Internet access....they surf unplugged in a sea of gray matter all their own...mercifully.

Anyway, the article got me thinking about when we reach our individual technological limits, not in understanding technology, but in needing it.

For instance, my company provides me with a mobile phone. It's a very cool phone. It has two way radio capabilities which I find handy at times. It also has Internet access. I'm tied to the Internet more than most folks, but for the life of me I can't see any reason why I need to be able to surf the web on my phone. Not only is it incredibly slow, but it's a tiny little screen. It's technology I don't need.

I'm the same with instant messaging. Our kids love it...I hate it. Maybe it's a generational thing.

Personally, I can't help but think of the guy who invented instant messaging rushing in to tell his bosses about it, "Look! I've find a new way to interrupt people!"

Recently, Microsoft sent me one of their new Spot (Smart Personal Object Technology) watches to try. It's a Dick Tracy watch from Fossil.

This is not a toy. It's a 200 dollar watch....with Dick Tracy's image all over it. Really. Dick Tracy...a name virtually synonymous with cutting edge technology...or at least it was in 1956.

The idea behind Spot watches is that information is beamed to your wrist. You subscribe to various MSN channels which provide limited news and sports items, along with delayed stock quotes and stuff you really can't live without, like your horoscope and lotto numbers. In other words, information that is virtually impossible to find unless you're lucky enough to live in a country where TV, radio, newspapers, and the Internet are available.

The real plus of the Spot watch though is the fashion statement it makes. Wearing what is quite possibly the biggest, most uncomfortable watch in the world - with Dick Tracy's face on it - opens doors to conversations heretofore unimagined. Most begin with probing questions like, "Is that a Yugo on your wrist or an AMC Pacer?" Or "Wouldn't having GEEK tattooed on your forehead be cheaper?"

Seriously, I really, really want to like this watch. It has everything I look for in a new was free and no one else has one.

But there's nothing to like. The information is not real time. The coverage area is extremely limited, and it's literally comical to wear.

I've worn it for almost two weeks now and I think the only thing I've really gained from it is a slightly larger bicep.

If I keep wearing it I'm going to look like Popeye...with a Dick Tracy watch.