technology and zen of life

“A heisenbug (named after the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle) is a computer bug that disappears or alters its characteristics when an attempt is made to study it.”

A Gen WHY Response to Geek Nation

The first time, a friend handed me Geek Nation: How Indian Science is taking over the World, he said, “It’s a bizarre book!” And one has to admit that reading this book is a journey which you take with the author, Angela Saini, with mixed feelings. At times your emotions resonate with those of the author and at others, it’s an uneasy feeling that something fundamental to Indian Science is missing. Something essential that’s lost in the myriad of places that she visits and people that she interviews. But, before one begins to explore it, one has to clarify that Gen W.H.Y. is borrowed from the book itself. It is what Thomas Simon, Vice President – HR, TCS calls the new generation of young Indians that question. I belong to this generation and hence, I presume that I have a right to question. Read the rest of this entry »


One of the ways, digital technologies have been thought about since the 1980s is within literature, specifically Cyberpunk, a genre of writings in science fiction.

“Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body.” – Lawrence Person

It’s fascinating how the entire plot lines of most cyberpunk novels are centered around alienated loners who have nothing but technology to get through the day. For people like me, it is a scary scenario of the future, for others it is a way of life. Last time, I mentioned the idea of a Slow  UshahidiKenyan Pundit Down! This time, I guess I want to see what could really happen if we go to the other extreme of digitizing our lives. Cyberpunk is certainly not a commentary on the reality of our lives. Hopefully, that dystopic future would never come true. Atleast Orwell’s 1984 is still quite far away becoming a complete reality. Maybe Google could prove that to be otherwise. Who knows! If Google can locate exactly what ads to show you based on the content of your email, I guess, William Gibson’s Idoru is not that far-fetched a future. Read the rest of this entry »

Slow Down!

Technology is a bitch, I tell you! You see, 50 years ago, nobody knew what a Smartphone was, let alone, our dear old iPhone and now, everybody talks about it. Some people hate it, some people love it and others can’t afford it. In the middle of it all, I seriously wonder if life would have been different if we didn’t have an iPhone. To start with, one less topic to fight over and I guess, Apple would have been closer to their niche product in Macintosh, which by the way again is a very controversial product.

We seriously believe that technology makes it all worth it. But, if you think about it, generation nerd didn’t exist 30 years ago. But, some people were still outcasts who enjoyed a Ham radio more than the company of real people. It’s a vicious circle and the more important question is, how far back we would want to go to break out of this circle when technology doesn’t affect our lives the way it does today. Or to be perfectly balanced towards people who love technology… do we really want to go back?

I think I would. And I will tell you why. Because boredom is a 21st century word. I have never seen my grandfather feeling bored. That state of mind does not exist for him. Within the rituals of everydayness that he follows, he never once complains that he is bored of them. And we, with our xBoxs and Play Stations, Facebook and Blogs, SMS and Emails and this list could go on, are perpetually looking for the next thing that might grab our attention for a few seconds. So we have RSS feeds, Google Reader, Buzz, Digg and the entire randomness of digital jargon that holds our attention for five minutes and poof! There it goes, taking away the satisfaction of doing something important in your day.

Life was simpler without Google maps, trying to tell you to turn on every street to reach your destination… you could get lost; know a city like a flâneur. Life was simple without Google search that would always tell you the best places to eat food in a city destroying the experience of eating crappy food every once in a while to appreciate good food. To be honest, I think technology is so central to making our lives comfortable that we don’t even know what comfortable means anymore.

There is warm water for cold winter mornings, destroying the experience of a cold shower that actually does make you feel really alive after the first five seconds. There is a raincoat that destroys the experience of being really drenched in the middle of a heavy downpour.  What is it about being uncomfortable once in a while, that scares us so much?

Anyway, one of these days, I am going to follow into the footsteps of people that believe in the Slow Movement. And really experiment with being away from my laptop or my “iPhone” for a couple of hours in a day. In fact, the idea of going offline escaping the gift/curse of constant communication and infinite information would probably help in being able to actually pick up a hardcover real book or a walk in the city or feeling alive without worrying about boredom.

I think, I should give up technology to not be bored.


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