Friday, June 29, 2012

conference, day 3: trapped by convenience.

[yes, this entry is out of order.  after a little thought, it doesn't seem that bad to post.]

sitting in the back of the lecture room, i quickly became lost in the gory details in the middle of a plenary talk (as usual).  so i started looking around.

it happens that the laptop screens of others are within my view.  this is hardly precise statistics, but it seems that most people are checking their email and writing replies .. with an occasional PDF open.

it seems like an honest enough reason to have a laptop open.  the life of academics is busy, among other duties, with getting back to colleagues, fellow committee members, or administrative staff at our home departments.

maybe technology has enthralled us, in both definitions of the word [1].

in theory, inventions like vacuum cleaners and automobiles and email have simplified the workings of modern life; on the other hand, not having maids or chauffeurs or secretaries at our beck and call, we are ourselves responsible for handling these matters instead.

it's not completely wrong to say that technology has created more work for us, not less.  modern life is conceptually more complicated, in that our schedules are fuller with the trappings of convenience.

[1] according to its entry in the free online dictionary,
en·thrall  (n-thrôl)
tr.v. en·thralled, en·thrall·ing, en·thralls
1. To hold spellbound; captivate: The magic show enthralled the audience.
2. To enslave.

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