And the Iphone is as good as I thought.

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kewms
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Sun Jul 08, 2007 9:09 pm Post

AmberV wrote:But, I wasn't. I was remarking upon cultural trends, not any individual person. I think it is wise that you fortify yourself, and exert your energy into staying rooted. Do you think all of this would be necessary if the culture trend did not exist? Your testimony of personal diligence is only necessary in a culture that encourages that which you defend against.


Buddha was teaching non-attachment 500 years before Christ, and the idea of possessions as an obstacle to personal growth was old even then. This particular cultural trend is probably as old as humanity.

Which doesn't mean it isn't important, or that we shouldn't fight against it, just that we need to be aware of what we're up against.

Katherine

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AmberV
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Sun Jul 08, 2007 10:04 pm Post

Doesn't mean we agree, in fact, the disagreement is very, very fruitful in my experience.


Disagreement is fantastic, even if it is only a matter of semantics. If we all just said, "yup yup" at the beginning of this thread, none of this would have ever been articulated. None of us would have had new perspectives to think about and assimilate into our own experience.

"(and that word, incidentally, has a more than circumstantial connexion with vice, but that is more amusing than relevant)."

This is intriguing! Care to expand on this?


The modern technological usage for 'device' evolved from the sense where it would be used to describe a plot, scheme, contrived to bring about an end result. A parallel concrete usage forked out of that to mean any sort of invented object for which a purpose was designed upon it to further the ephemeral plot or scheme, which is where the technological device sits. If you step back a bit further, the older sense that relates to these two is where it would be used like, "To leave one to their own devices," to leave them to their own fancies and whims; their own force of will.

Vice being a tainted expression of such will and fancy. It isn't as fun as a direct etymological link, but it is one of those curious places in the English language where two words that sound alike, can mean similar things in certain areas of convergence.

Here is where it gets more interesting to me: The root meaning of the word device (devys), from a convergence Middle English and Old French (devis), is to separate, partition, or divide. This is important, because human will and desire require separation or division from an existing normality to be expressed. One must divide, or devise a manner of breaking from the current situation, in order to enjoy their fancies. To act upon what pleases us, we must partition ourselves--distinguish ourselves--from the things around us. One amusing aside is that linguists have a hard time separating it from related words and forms. At least three forms were used at the same time in the 13th to 14th century, many at times spelled identically, but meaning different things.

Having a 'vice' could be interpreted as taking 'device' too far. It is following our will or fancy to the point where we begin to separate ourselves from what is considered acceptable behaviour, or to indulge in something to the point where we partition ourselves too heavily from the world outside of that vice. While there are absolutely no grounds for this etymologically speaking, I am amused that de-vice is the lesser of vice. To reiterate, the de- in device is not as in the verb, de-forme, but it makes for yet another amusing convergence in the English language.

There are two other points you brought up that I want to respond to, but they will require some further thought and expansion.
.:.
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AmberV
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Sun Jul 08, 2007 10:30 pm Post

kewms wrote:Buddha was teaching non-attachment 500 years before Christ, and the idea of possessions as an obstacle to personal growth was old even then. This particular cultural trend is probably as old as humanity.


Absolutely agree, and if you go back to one of my earlier posts you'll see that I say about that in regards to drawing a line between modern development and historic development. The case was brought up that it is nothing new to fear that which changes around us, and my response to that is: This explosion of technology aided humanity has been around for thousands of years; but it is only a blip on the end of a very long prehistory. Comparing similar caution from history with modern caution and then inferring that modern caution is potentially just as silly as the people who thought chemistry was going to destroy us all is to merely point out two points on the same curve. As humans, we are reacting to, and have been reacting to, the age of tools for a very long time in terms of consciousness; but in terms of biological evolution, and more importantly whether or not What We Are can keep up with these innovations, it is not long at all. It is such a short amount of time that it wouldn't even register on a timeline. Look how long it took for us to learn how to communicate, and then to operate as larger groups of people? We still don't have that part down very well. Wars are still waged over petty differences and power struggles. The culture that we must defend ourselves against here is much more than just what we see in the last 100 years.

That said, I think that today we are faced with a larger problem than simple attachment and separation. While it has always been a human need to attach themselves to their things (see earlier post), in this particular culture that I live in, it is exceptionally easy to acquire so many things that you can very easily get to the point where you no longer exist amongst them. It is good to remember that Siddhartha Gautama did not start out at the bottom of the barrel in his society, and much of what he had to say was for himself as much as others. Today, we (in the context of the society I live in) are nearly all as privileged and surrounded by luxury as pinnacles of civilisation in history.

It is easy to look back at the decadent of old and see where they went wrong, but sometimes not so easy to realise just how much of what they had--we live with constantly. Sure, we don't all have houses full of servants, but many people do not cook their own meals (microwaves instead of a kitchen staff). Hardly anyone butchers or grows their own food. Instead of message runners, we have telephones. We live as if we have a phalanx of people in service. Sure, we exchange money for that service, and we work for that money, but the end result is extremely similar. We collectively have more spare time than any other group in the known history of humanity. And so far, we do not have a very good track record of keeping that time filled wisely. Again, 'we' is a general term here; humanity, not necessarily anyone even on this board. We as an additive concept of currently living humans within this niche of society that lives so luxuriously.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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Sun Jul 08, 2007 10:37 pm Post

Juddbert wrote:All a bit off track, don't you think? The thread, if I'm not mistaken, centred around the iPhone.


Yes, the thread diverged, but this is the place for divergence. Note the forum title. Think of sitting over a cup of coffee (glass of wine, cup of green tea, preferably jasmine), whatever you favor, and chatting about things. We started with the iPhone and that took off into some very interesting and related tangents. Just like a real conversation among friends. So I think it just fine, IMHO, and fitting with the spirit of the forum. :)

Of course, talking about the iPhone is just fine too. :)

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Sun Jul 08, 2007 10:45 pm Post

AJ wrote:I've also come to believe that the planet is bigger and more resilient than anything we can throw at it. I'm not anxious about the future.


I quite agree. However, our ability to adapt to what we throw at it makes me quite anxious about the future. The planet is going to be just fine. But we, and many other of our fellow creatures, may not be--for sure many of our fellow creatures, which are innocent bystanders, aren't faring very well already. People are dieing, being displaced. Friends of mine, if you think Katrina was enhanced by the effects of global warming, etc. I guess you could say change is inevitable, but the degree of and the speed of it, well, I definitely feel a sense of responsibility for myself and as a species for that. If you don't see it that way, well then I guess you wouldn't be all that concerned.

And I didn't mean literally marching in the streets, though I see nothing wrong with that either. It helped to stop a war, so, I guess it has it's place. It also helps to shape that next generation you speak of. I grew up on marching for what we believed in. I know it helped shape me and I like the way I turned out, quite frankly. :)

Alexandria

PS Like the 'as-if,' Amber. I agree marching and such are ineffective by themselves, and I think too that what was once effective is less so now. I think we definitely need new models and means for effecting social change! What you describe is a solid starting point (and end point for many, I suspect).
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Sun Jul 08, 2007 11:37 pm Post

Wow, what a thread.

I'm way over my head on some of the arguments and will leave it at that (except where I 'google' those concepts and history that are beyond me).

My cellphone is my electric leash. Carried but not wanted, appreciated when necessary (remember trying to find a phone booth only to discover you lacked the proper change).

I will not declare it evil. That is someone else choice. I recognize the fact it is lifting the 3rd world past landlines which are to easy to sell pieces of. There is a lovely TED conference podcast about it's effect.

Talking of digital cameras, I look longingly at my Contax and Canon and think of the poison released every time I have a film processed. Is the impact less with the digital? Will the latest iPhone make me greener or uglier. If I needlessly use it yes. If it means that I will not need a laptop then surely I am consuming less. Scrivener for the iPhone please.

Lastly be careful so as to not judge someone elses use of an electronic item as good or bad. After all, unless it is to set off a bomb, it is but an annoyance. I am wealthy enough (lower middle class) to decide on what I choose to buy, where I work and can jump in my car or on public transit. I will not deny someone else the right to use anything that does not harm someone else simply because I do not like it. That to me is the worst form of elistist egotism. After all, if you refuse someone the right to use a tool, are you prepared to allow them the same right to ban one of yours?

Iain
Moderation is for monks, enjoy your passions! - R.A. Heinlein

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Sun Jul 08, 2007 11:53 pm Post

Sorry, Alexandria, I'm going to bow out here too, for similar reasons. I think we've begun to talk past each other.

Cheers.
"Writers are troublemakers. A psychotherapist tries to relieve stress, strain, and pressure. Writers are not psychotherapists. Their job is to give readers stress, strain, and pressure." - Sol Stein

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kewms
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Mon Jul 09, 2007 12:22 am Post

AmberV wrote:It is easy to look back at the decadent of old and see where they went wrong, but sometimes not so easy to realise just how much of what they had--we live with constantly. Sure, we don't all have houses full of servants, but many people do not cook their own meals (microwaves instead of a kitchen staff). Hardly anyone butchers or grows their own food. Instead of message runners, we have telephones. We live as if we have a phalanx of people in service. Sure, we exchange money for that service, and we work for that money, but the end result is extremely similar. We collectively have more spare time than any other group in the known history of humanity. And so far, we do not have a very good track record of keeping that time filled wisely. Again, 'we' is a general term here; humanity, not necessarily anyone even on this board. We as an additive concept of currently living humans within this niche of society that lives so luxuriously.


Indeed. Even people who cook their own food don't, really, relative to our ancestors. This afternoon, I prepared a marinade for some beef: I opened a bottle of wine (from California), a bottle of olive oil (from Italy), and several bottles of spices (from who knows where). I mixed the ingredients, added some garlic (probably from California, but who knows), and poured the marinade over beef that appeared in my grocer's case as if by immaculate conception, having been raised, butchered, and reduced to individual serving pieces somewhere beyond the horizon of my awareness.

I'm planning to cook the meat outside on the grill, but I'll do so by choice, not necessity, using charcoal briquettes designed to deliver uniform heat in a predictable time.

Counting the conveniences of modern society in the above paragraphs is left as an exercise to the reader, and we haven't even mentioned the starch or the vegetable. Yet, by modern standards, I've invested quite a lot of effort in this meal.

All of which is a very long way of saying, "Yes, Amber, you're right. Point taken."

Katherine

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Mon Jul 09, 2007 12:37 am Post

AJ wrote:Sorry, Alexandria, I'm going to bow out here too, for similar reasons. I think we've begun to talk past each other.

Cheers.


Hi AJ. I don't know about talking past each other. I just disagree with you, or perhaps more precisely, I am agreeing on one point and adding to it. That's all. And that's okay. And it's equally fine if you don't want to talk any more. No need to be sorry. :)

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Mon Jul 09, 2007 12:42 am Post

Hi, Iain,

I think your post goes very well with your quote at the bottom! I love Heinlein, though I read him most voraciously when I was in my early teens. My favorite book of his is "I Will Fear No Evil." Though I loved almost every book he wrote when I read them!

Alexandria
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Mon Jul 09, 2007 9:04 am Post

alexwein wrote:Yes, the thread diverged, but this is the place for divergence. Note the forum title...


You’re right of course Alexandria, but my point was offered in the context of the slight rise in temperature, and the fact that AJ was, quite rightly, somewhat miffed at the derogatory name calling. The value of courtesy is utterly disproportionate to its cost, and its application inherently implies respect. The converse is equally true.

Fascinating dialogue though :)

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Mon Jul 09, 2007 9:09 am Post

Not to mention that the original poster, wmarcy, seems to have been scared off. Probably not what they were expecting when they posted a little note about how nice their iPhone was. :?

Ma
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Mon Jul 09, 2007 9:40 am Post

Studio717 wrote:Not to mention that the original poster, wmarcy, seems to have been scared off. Probably not what they were expecting when they posted a little note about how nice their iPhone was. :?


O yes,

so let me mention, though being sceptic about the health impact of mobile phone towers I _wish I had an iPhone_. I am looking forward to its introduction to Japan, the news I could read here are so nice.



Maria

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Mon Jul 09, 2007 10:07 am Post

This thread just gets more and more fascinating! And I think it's important that it did come up in the context of the iPhone, because it, and Apple products in general, really do foster a sense of emotional attachment to technology. Of course, advertisers and designers have been cultivating that attachment for decades, but Apple is particularly adept at it. I guess a booster would say that it works because Apple products are fulfilling a need and there's nothing wrong with that.

I'll confess to getting little emotional thrills sometimes when encountering a new Apple gizmo, and Amber has made me stop and think about the larger implications of such feelings. It's particularly acute because I share her feelings about car culture, Portland (it's the main reason I chose to live here) and other issues. But I think the whole discussion would have been too abstract if it weren't grounded in the tangible example of the iPhone, because I can't deny its usefulness for some people, while simultaneously acknowledging the dangers Amber cites (Amber alert?). It forces me to acknowledge my own contradictory feelings about this phenomenon of technology increasing social isolation etc. I guess we're all part of it, whether we embrace the iPhone or not, because we're all using the internet and Macs, yet striving to stay connected to other people in spite of the isolation they can foster.

I still intend to get an iPhone for my wife (if she doesn't beat me to it) but I also am now thinking hard about the larger phenomenon this gadget is part of, and so I appreciate the thoughtful and thought provoking posts that inspired this reconsideration.

I want to ponder the arguments raised here further before responding to the substantive issues, but in the meantime, I just wanted to endorse the process and forum of discussing them here, and to urge Scriveners to keep it going. And to caution that we all try not to take things personally, and to watch our language so that unintended insults don't occur.

Meanwhile... is anyone here familiar with the concept of the Precautionary Principle? Does it have relevance to this discussion?

Ma
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Mon Jul 09, 2007 10:26 am Post

brett wrote:...
Meanwhile... is anyone here familiar with the concept of the Precautionary Principle? Does it have relevance to this discussion?


Perhaps not so much to the discussion as it is going on in this particular thread, but the relevance of the Precautionary Principle to mobile phone technology is 100%. Just send me a pm if you like.

I see your other arguments, and like you I am feeling to be drawn between and to both sides. I love gadgets, I love beautiful things, I love simplicity, I hate if others invade my life with what I do not want (noise, dirt, ugly architecture, aggressive cars, tax...) Somehow I live a contradictary life -- trying to eat what is grown here, having a house built with timber from the mountains around here, living with 1 small car for several persons, not answering to mobile phone calls when I am talking when someone else. But I own a mobile phone, we do have a car, we eat tuna, and (Americans, beat me), sometimes I eat and enjoy the taste of whale.

But when behaving incorrectly, I feel that I am still not radical, I did not loose contact to others who do not care so much. It is difficult to keep the balance, to live, as my dictionary says: worldly-wise. (is that correct in this context?)

Maria