My wife and I celebrated our 11th anniversary, we’re still in love. There was Father’s Day, I’m still a dad. Then last Tuesday I decided to ride my gravel bike to work.
I was so pleased with myself. Look at me! A modern man free from fossil fuels. Midway through my ride, however, my Air Pods died on me. I was momentarily bummed but decided to enjoy the sights and sounds of traffic instead. When I got to the office, I reached for my phone while making coffee… but my phone wasn’t there. It slowly dawned on me that my headphones didn’t lose battery, they lost the connection to my phone! My phone must have popped out of the phone-sized pocket on my bike bag and fell on the road.
I was lost for a few minutes. My umbilical cord to the modern world was gone. I racked my brain for retired 1990s lifeskills and grabbed the office landline and punched in my wife’s phone number. Panic-stricken, I asked her to check the Find My iPhone app to see if we could locate the phone… no luck.
I hopped on my bike to retrace my route back to the scene of the crime, a newly paved bus stop that created a 1” step in the bike lane about 40ft from where my headphones stopped working… no luck. It was either picked by a “concerned” citizen or it smashed into bits by an F-150 on Burnet Rd.
It was weird and uncomfortable being without a phone. No text updates to my wife. No 2FA into my client’s VPN. My smart watch lost it’s parental companion. Luckily, my new office is caddy corner from an AT&T store. I briefly considered switching to Android again, but I can still taste the lack of privacy. Within a few hours my phone was fully restored to a backup snapshot from the night before. Crisis resolved and I was re-reinstalled.
I wish this post was more of a “I lost my phone and achieved zen” Medium-dot-com type of post, but it’s not. If you want something like that, I recommend the book Make Time (which I read and enjoyed last week) that’s packed with 87 tactics for breaking free from the modern world. For me, losing my phone was more dreadful. It was costly and prohibitive to being able to make money and meet deadlines. If there’s one positive, I now have an accurate assessment on how dependent I am on this little pocket-sized device.
The New Wilderness (idlewords.com)
Maciej Ceglowski does it again in a piece mourning the loss of ambient privacy. I wish I had both his intellect and his ability to craft suitable metaphors for our self-created disasters.
Autistic Communication Differences & How to Adjust for Them (theaspergian.com)
An amazing read on the differences in communication between autistic individuals and more neurotypical individuals. This was helpful for me and actually helps me understand past interactions and miscommunications quite a bit more. I also enjoyed the perspective shift and criticism in hearing how “allistics” tend to engage in longwinded “what-if” conversations about easily verifiable facts.
The History of Nintendo Game Music (1983-2001) (shmuplations.com)
An interview with Koji Kondo and Kazumi Totaka about how game music and audio have evolved over a couple decades. I love this era of game development where device limitations (memory, performance, sound channels, etc) were a major concern for everyone on the project and learn a lot when thinking about the Web.
The World-Wide Work (Ethan Marcotte)
Ethan is a masterful storyteller. Comparing the Web’s growth to the path of the sewing machine, the device and similarly all its marketing and uses is trailing towards industrialization and exploitation.
MEN (Scene on Radio)
I finished Scene on Radio’s MEN series which is a follow up to their incredible Seeing White series. MEN started off slow and scripted to me and I almost gave up, but Episode 8 (race-based definitions of masculinity through the lens of Asian-American and Black experiences), Episode 9 (two trans men share their perspective on masculinity), and Episode 10 (a look at pubescent male socialization from the candid perspective of a sixth grade boy) were shocking and eye-opening. I recommend the whole series based purely on those episodes.
Algorithms of Oppression (Live) (New Economics Foundation)
Safiya Umoja Noble’s book Algorithms of Oppression has been on my short list of books I want to read and listening to this interview it has sky rocketed to the top.
Last Days of August (Jon Ronson)
One of my favorite authors, Jon Ronson, has another podcast about the curious case of an adult film star’s untimely suicide allegedly brought on by online bullying. The death of this young woman provides an honest, intimate, and non-judgemental look at some of the porn industry’s more systemic problems. It’s a familiar blend of two of his previous works: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, a book about online harassment and cancel culture, and The Butterfly Effect, a podcast about how centralization in the online porn industry and its effects on the performer’s lives.