I got called a “luddite” again the other day. This time, it was in reference to the fact that I choose not to own a “smart phone”. I have a very dumb phone, and it still has more features than I want.
I want Fennec to succeed and I’m proud to do the occasional bit of hacking in support of it, but in my own personal life, browsing the web on a telephone just isn’t something I’m interested in. Nor is running “apps” on a telephone. I want my phone to make calls and maybe — maybe, only at certain times of my choosing — to receive incoming calls. (That’s why I leave it turned off most of the time except when I want to make a call). I grudgingly learned to use text messages just because that’s the only way to communicate with certain of my family members.
I would actually rather not have a cell phone at all; the fact that I own one is a concession to my family.
Most of the new gadgets that have come out in the past five or ten years hold no appeal for me, because they’re all predicated on the assumption that you want to have internet access everywhere you go without lugging a laptop around. I’m sure that’s an important thing for a lot of people, but personally I’ve never found carrying a laptop to be some kind of huge burden. If I want to do some hacking I bring it along, and if I want to disconnect and decompress my brain then I leave it at home. I’m content with these choices, so I’m not interested in any kind of smaller non-laptop internet device.
Besides, I don’t really feel comfortable with any computer or computer-like object unless I can run Emacs on it.
There’s a good post by Hang at Bumblebee Labs (a blog that is well worth reading, by the way) titled The Silicon Valley "Bubble". Hang argues that the real difference between Silicon Valley and the rest of the world is
In the valley, people are willing to adapt their behavior to fit the software.
Everywhere else in the world, people adapt the software to fit their behavior.
I think there are a lot of other weird things about Silicon Valley besides this, but Hang’s definition sums up my attitude towards cell phones and smart phones. See, I’m not a Luddite: I’m just very picky about what technology I’m willing to adapt my behavior for.