Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why Go Outside, Why Ponder?

I think I shall ride my bike and sleep on the ground somewhere...

We look back and remember: what the "outdoors" may have looked like, way back when

Those of us who like to go outside once in a while, or more often, for a long walk, or bicycle ride, in the sunshine and free air, perhaps to have a long think or just to relax, face increasing doubts about our habits, bordering on outright hostility toward the very notion of "going outdoors." 

All the longstanding reasons or excuses for leaving your home are almost gone. It's only a stubborn, antiquated, and energy-wasting urge that compels anyone to venture outside anymore. Everything, and everyone, you need, is right at your fingertips, on the screen in front of you now. You're on the verge of the One-click Life(TM), why would you want anything else?

Work (telecommuting, remote work, telepresence), shopping, finding your true love, watching movies, everything you need is right there, all books (or at least the popular ones that matter) are now in electronic form for immediate download. Everyone you ever knew or need to know is on F-book, everything you've said or need to say is on the Tweeter, everything you need to know is trapped somewhere between g00g13 and the Wikipædia. For exercise, you can order the Z90Insane-Pump DVD set and break yourself in front of the big screen with death metal or nine other sound tracks to choose from. The world's music, art, history, culture, available for immediate access, each note, brushstroke, and historic fact with its own IPV6 address. 

Vices? Any one you can think of has already been done, thoroughly explored to its ultimate implications, photographed, and indexed, just type it in, there's probably an online community who have been there, done that, made the vinyl tank top. Here let me generate a UUID for that thought.

And pondering? A long, slow think that travels from point to point and stops when it needs to check references, recall a long-forgotten image, reflect on a friend's late-night strange thoughts that now seem very relevant years later, or stop at the library to try to find a particular reference after asking the librarian for assistance? Dude, just tweet it. Check the meme-er-verse, it's already been u-tuberized (1423123 views). Email is so 10 nanoseconds ago.

One possible alternative to resting inside four walls / metal boxes

Ultimately, sooner than we dream-dread, robots will be able to handle those last few irritating reasons for having to venture beyond the home pod. The reasons for the robots themselves to leave the yard will be gone. Once your robotic preferences, configurations, and relevant experiential data have been parked in the cloud, even your closest helper-bot can stay close to home and use its virtual extensions to "do" things at other locations remotely. The doctor, dentist, and hospital will come to you on demand robotically. Home birth with a robot presiding who can be anything from the world's foremost OB MD to an ancient earth mother midwife.

A UUID for your thoughts?

I've noticed that the more I ride in traffic, the more comfortable I get being very close to cars. It's probably a mistake, I know it, but so far so good. Today, on Scottsdale Road, at rush hour, I did a little lane splitting and rode at a medium speed forward between cars waiting for the stoplight. Every car, every one, the driver was alone, and talking on their cell, or texting while creeping forward. One did peer at me through the window, and telegraphed the thought, "man, it's like 105F out there, you must be hot on that bike," so I smiled back, and did my best to radiate deep thought, zen balance, and steely grace as I coasted by, and telegraphed back, "man, it's like soo inside in there!" But I think his attention span had already flitted to the next thought, and I was but a fading impression on his overworked and multitasking brain. Tweet!

Long languorous attention is good. Long languorous rides are good. An arduous hike up a barren rock is good. An out-of-control rip down a rocky twisting singletrack trail with cactus ripping at your legs is good, especially if it's 110F. And a good book recommended by a dedicated librarian is the best. I mention these because in a few years, when no one goes outside, ever, when even the house robots peek through a crack in the curtains with trepidation, someone will retweet this. For old time's sake. Get up. Go outside. Ride.

the UUID for this post is feb442d8-3e41-4da2-965f-2891b82e502d. Don't forget it.


  1. The best part of taking my car to he blacksmith yesterday was the ride home. After a while I came to really pity the people I passed as they all seemed so unhappy. I did not feel guilt for being happy but I was aware of it.
    I'm really looking forward to picking the fliver up when it is finished but only because of the ride to get it. A ride with no purpose is wonderful and a ride with a purpose is another kind of wonderful.

  2. "I've noticed that the more I ride in traffic, the more comfortable I get being very close to cars. It's probably a mistake..."

    I noticed the same effect as well and then my imagination pulls me back to the awful and dangerous reality of how dangerous such riding is.

  3. Whoa. Waxing philosophic about our high tech, high voltage lives, eh, JRA? How the Infernal E-Gadgets and iGadgets are redefining us rather than just staying "useful tools"?

    Interesting coincidence, I just had a corollary guest post over on Commute by Bike about how Modern life is ruining my life.

  4. BlueCat, soon we'll be known by our robot preferences and avatar contact details bouncing around the cloud, and our "definition" will be accessible via IPV6 address and can be whatever we want it to be. I like to think of it as less authentic but more approachable.


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