It gives you a job
It IS a job!
So goes the Tom Waits song of this post’s title, describing “the only product you will ever need.” We’ve waited thirty years for the product, and now we have it: the smartphone. I recently purchased a Motorola Droid, after watching my boss waste countless hours fiddling with it. I love it. There are many like it, but this one is mine. I don’t know what I ever did without it. But what does it do?
To borrow a quote of mysterious origin, “that’s the beauty of it- it doesn’t DO anything!” Now of course that’s not true. It has GPS, a fast internet connection, games, and like the iPhone, sometimes it even makes calls. But what does it do for me? Occupy me, mostly. It makes me check facebook, twitter, tumblr, gmail, and my RSS feeds every three minutes, and that’s if I’m driving. Just kidding. I took Oprah’s pledge not to phone and drive. Web browsing doesn’t count, right?
The smartphone is an excuse for itself, turning us all into Data from The Goonies, except instead of being festooned with gadgets, we only have one, our iPrecious. I spend more time searching for ingenious apps, configuring them and showing them off than I ever do using them productively. I’ll admit that my pocket precious is indispensable when I need to find sushi in suburbia, or I’m too impatient to fire up the laptop. But in the end, it reminds me of the robotic overlords in Fritz Leiber’s story “The Creature from the Cleveland Depths, which began as personal assistants.
It’s a great story, both hilariously dated and eerily prescient. Here’s a link, so you can read it on your phone later. And yes, I wrote this post from my droid.
Last night’s Futuruma was perfect.