Lazy Luddite Log

31.5.08

Convergence

A while back I knocked my alarm clock off my desk and it smashed. Since then however I have never replaced it but rather have been using my mobile phone as my alarm clock. This has reminded me of the notion of technological convergence and my suggestion (made as part of a long discussion here ages ago) that it may be one way of curbing overconsumption.

Because my phone is now my alarm clock, that is now one less thing I need to buy. And my mobile is a pretty primitive one. Many others have mobiles that are also cameras or also personal music players. With such devices that serve several functions (because the technology involved in these functionally different devices is in fact very similar technology) we may find that we all start owning fewer separate sole-purpose devices. I notice for instance that a lot of us nowadays use our mobiles to tell the time, elliminating the need for a watch. And it can go further.

I know some friends who lacked a TV and VCR but that was okay as they rarely watched free TV and would simply watch DVDs on their home computer. Likewise a computer with the right software and attachments serves as a perfectly good home stereo. Here are more ways in which such multi-function devices may allow us to own fewer items while still feeling as if we have all those mod-cons (does anyone use that word these days other than me?).

Of course we tend to own several of these things. I still have an old film camera and I will keep using it till such time as its usefulness ends. Likewise I have a lovely iPod that keeps me company while PTing (I have had this longer than a mobile and got it for a song second-hand). Eventually however I may replace all of these with one rather than three things. And as time pases the functionality of these devices will improve - they will get better and better at several things rather than just one thing.

And finally we come to the Internet. I rarely buy a newspaper now because I can simply see news on-line. I rarely buy CDs now as my desire for particular tracks is well-served by things such as the iTunes Store. All in all if what I want is information then I can get that directly rather than need it to be printed onto paper or laser disc or whatever (let alone the petrol needed to transport such things to shops). Will these trends reduce the overall level of resources consumed by the modern person? Or will there be other factors I am overlooking which will also come into play?

One consequence of these developments for me is that I can potentially be spending less while feeling as if I have a better quality-of-life in the form of more convenience and less clutter. Or I may just spend the extra dosh on more Transformers...

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2 Comments:

  • Thus pandering to your luddite tendencies by reducing the number of techie toys around you, while at the same time not giving up the convenience said toys. Very clever!

    On a relate anecdote, apparently Linda Ronstadt is reducing the techie toys around her by not replacing anything that has a blinking light when it breaks down.

    By Anonymous Mintaka, At 01 June, 2008  

  • Linda Ronstadt has an aversion to blinking lights? I find a few of them in a darkened house to be kinda comforting. Still reducing the number of non-transforming gagdets in ones house seems a worthwhile thing to me!

    By Blogger Daniel, At 11 June, 2008  

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