Advances in tech = 2D world and no guitar

Comment of the week:

Ben – aren’t you spending a little too much time on this web-site hobby of yours? Shouldn’t you be relaxing somewhere with a recently-emptied six-pack of once-cold beer at your feet and a guitar in your hands?

Which got me thinking: yes, I wish I’d spent at least a couple of hours yesterday enjoying my guitar instead of staring at this piece of glass we call a monitor and the (admittedly quite interesting) totally 2D world it presents.

Let’s follow that thought for a moment:

Most of us spend most of our days staring at a dynamically shifting piece of glass.

Of course, it gives us news, correspondence, a wealth of information beyond our great-grandparents’ wildest dreams, even fun stuff like naked celebrities and this incredible website.

But do the math: for an 8 hour working day (forgetting leisure time on the net) that’s 40 hours a week screen time, 2000 hours a year, 90,000 hours in a typical 45 year working lifetime… which corresponds back to a total 10.27 years of our life, minimum, staring fixedly at a piece of glass.

What would our great-grandparents have made of that?

OK, so this only really affects people that work with a computer – nurses, gardeners, truck drivers, teachers, postmen etc all largely escape the screen – but not for long, soon technology will probably find better ways to get them staring at screens too.

I think a brighter future lies in areas like podcasting, that use the same technology that delivers pixels to glass (i.e. the internet), to put the interesting stuff in our pocket, giving us the chance to get away from the screen and into the garden or park, to have an enhanced, 3D, multi-sensual and simultaneous knowledge/life experience, instead of waring our eyes out and narrowing our perceptions down to this 17″ (insert your monitor size) window on the world.

So here’s hoping that technology and the net works harder on giving us back our 3D life, focusing less on sucking us in and more on spitting us back out into the world, so I for one can spend more time in the great outdoors with a podcast, or with that six pack and my guitar.

14 thoughts on “Advances in tech = 2D world and no guitar

  1. Gary

    I am so sad that I sometimes do a double screening – watching TV with my laptop on my knee…
    So what do I do online? Well here I am doing it, I am fortunat that I am only addicted to one blog/forum – this one.
    The other thing is an obsession with getting your webpage on the first page of Google for any relevant search so I spend time repeating searches that have been done where my site is on page 2 or 3 and looking at the source code/key words/ content of the pages at the top to see what they are doing to achieve their rankings…. its a bit like solving a puzzle where there isnt really an answer.
    I do still play guitar, walk the dog, etc. In fact if I am having a problem getting a piece of code to do my bidding the solution often comes to me while I am playing guitar, walking the dog… maybe theres a moral there somewhere

  2. ValenciaSon

    The whole premise behind my job is to get more nurses and other clinicians to use a computerized system as part of their workflow. But the whole idea behind automating healthcare is to free up the clinician from redundant paperwork so that they can spend more time with actual, direct patient care.

  3. luke

    The greatest writers and painters interacted with a two dimensional plane for just as long. I guess the key is what you do with that time in front of the screen.

  4. ValenciaSon

    Maybe in the future you’ll have sentient software performing many of the tasks you perform now to manage your web sites, freeing you up for your guitar practice.

  5. Ben Post author

    @Gary – well, if you are looking at the tv and the laptop at the same time, then maybe your world is 4D!

    @VS – In the healthcare case i see more screen and less paper as definitely a good thing then

    @Luke – OK, very good point. We have to use the materials as best we can… it’s just that screens replace so much of what we used to do in other ways…

  6. leftbanker

    Your design is like the Taj Mahal of web sites while mine—to continue with the architectural analogy—is like a fort that little kids made out of couch cushions.

    As far as my non-virtual world goes, I am playing a Chopin waltz on the piano (don’t be impressed, I think he wrote it when he was 2).

  7. Jon Hundt

    turn it off, baby – pick up yer six-string and hit the road!

    You are very good at what you do Ben – now give yourself a break from the 2D world.

    What dimension is music in, by the way?

  8. PattyN

    Ben, From everything I’ve read, the best way to learn to play an instrument is with daily practice. 15 minutes/day is better than all day once a week, and probably easier to manage. I’m trying to re-learn the piano after not playing for 28 years and after about 15 minutes, I’m mentally exhausted anyway. Why not 15 minutes now?

  9. Edith

    I fully understand your ‘addiction’, Ben, but your friend has got a point. 🙂 Perhaps you should think about setting aside one day of the week for other activities – turn off the computer, go to another room where you can’t see the computer or grab your guitar and leave the house!

  10. Ben Post author

    @LB – we must do a duet some time 🙂

    @JH – OK OK! I spent at least 30 an hour with the guitar this morning!

    @Patty – That is the philosophy I’m going for, a little bit every day!

    @Edith – don’t worry, I do try and take one day off a week at least!

    @BrianA – Ha! Not even the author of the book gets away with 4 hours, it’s a total myth!

  11. quickcrimson

    I don’t comment on your blog often (though I do follow it–I really like your style of writing) but your mathematical breakdown is so true that I’ve had to pause a bit and consider a teenhood raised on ‘net junkiness. I think several years have been spent online for me already …!

    Enjoy the 3D world; although the 2D world is here to make it a little easier/connect us more … after all, we wouldn’t be able to discover little outside worlds like this.

    Very valid points you’ve raised though, there’s a whole other world of sensory experience out there.

    p.s. I like JH’s question about the dimension of music–I reckon it’s the fourth. Hope the guitar is going well.

    ~Louise.

  12. Ben Post author

    Thanks for the comment Louise. I think definitely the fourth dimension as well 🙂 The guitar is going well, I’m almost on to learning my second song! Right, I’m off to the park for a bit of 3D!

  13. MissLena

    Unlike you (evidently), *I* stare at a sheet of polymer all day long. This means that, rather than squatting in a cube somewhere (or even my cluttered home office), I may be almost anywhere — on the beach, in the garden, on an aeroplane to somewhere…indeed, at the moment I am sick in bed and engaged with you, rather than the tele — another sheet of glass you neglected in your calculus… 😉

    Bueno,
    ‘Lena

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