Can we just take a moment and think about how incredibly, insanely magical the world has gotten, from a technological standpoint?

I’m on here every day, chatting with people from six different continents. (Anyone posting from Antarctica? It would be cool to make it a lucky seven.) I can take a picture or write a story and have it available to anyone in the world in a matter of seconds.

A little over two decades ago, this would be science-fiction fantasy. (Remember when long distance telephone service was something you had to think about – and pay for?) Now I can do it with equipment I picked up for free at the dump.

I think about this when I’m running, sometimes.

This is my shitty LG smartphone. I think it’s called a “Tribute.” I bought it three years ago, at Target, for $40. It has extremely limited storage space and can only hold a dozen or so apps. (I’ll never forgive Android for making it so hard to install apps to the SD card.) It really sucks for web browsing and is pretty slow to launch programs.


Still, look at all the stuff it does while I’m running:

  • It’s picking up GPS signals from freakin’ orbit and using trigonometry to work out just where I am to the nearest meter, from the signal delays caused by the motherfucking speed of light.
  • It’s sending out requests to a cell phone tower and then receiving, in response, a stream of any goddamn song in the history of recorded music.
  • It’s then broadcasting that stream over another radio antenna to a pair of wireless bluetooth earphones, just so I can enjoy the groovy irreverent beats of Knower rather than running in silence.
  • When I see things that make my eye-holes happy, I can point the phone at them. A lens smaller than a sesame seed sucks in trillions of photons, throws throws them at a sensor the size of a tab of LSD, which converts them into electrical signals that it dumps into a piece of plastic and sand the size of my smallest fingernail. Then I paw at the screen like a monkey. Seconds later, the thing that made my eye-holes happy can make your eye-holes happy.
  • It also receives phone calls. They sound terrible. Stupid piece-of-crap phone.

My phone gets as good workout as I do on these runs. A 90 minute, eight mile excursion will drain half the battery. Still, that’s not bad for powering three different antennas (two of them transmitting), a screen on maximum brightness, and a processor doing the math to constantly display my position on a map in real time. When it’s not doing all that stuff, it still lasts for 24 hours on a single charge.

Obviously, if I ever get up to marathon distance, I’ll need a phone that can keep its shit together for several hours of running. But by the time I’m in that kind of shape, this particular miracle gadget will be obsolete, anyway.


What is your favorite piece of recently obsolete technology?

Do you still get amazed by the stuff that’s available now, or has it all become too commonplace?



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