Today I was sitting down wondering what to do from tomorrow. Well for some reason the co-incidence was that it is a kind of a new year for us. A festival called Gudi Padwa. I said why not think about a work reform seriously. The first thing I decided was to cut down my computer usage when I am not needed around it. My applications and workload always takes of itself with automated queues and stuff. I have been using the computer mouse more than the keyboard for editing pictures more than music almost 12 hours in a day. Its started to give signs of wear and tear including an extra skin padding that has appeared on the wrist where the hand touches the desk. It aches very badly quite often, especially when I sleep. I don't realize any pain, cold, sweat, etc. when I work. The first step I decided for cutting down computer use was to go the traditional information highway of reading books. I cannot sit and gossip more than once a week and for more than a few minutes. My brain needs munching and thinking which will not just make sense but will help me and to help others in future. Being obsessed with my own work I couldn't digest the idea too well. I am reading a book atleast for an hour everyday since a year, and a lot more information on the internet but then I have to stay away from the computer and still read... err a book.
Well ok. I thought lets start with reading about a bit of sound engineering and mixing. A huge part of my spirit and mind would accept this knowing that this will be helpful in very near future. Ofcourse I have done a lot of reading with online help documents, pdfs and forums but lets start with a book I thought to myself. Now since I have bought some official recording and mixing softwares I got free guides with them in PDF format. Printing 600 pages of stuff wouldn't be a good idea. I always remember forever whatever I read so those 600 pages would be waste for the environment as well as considering non-reuse. Finding the PDF burnt on some DVD amongst thousands of DVDs didn't seemed a bad idea. So lets download it again I decided. After a long long time the word DOWNLOAD took me way down into thinking of how incredibly we are connected now, especially at such gigantic speeds. Processing power did increase but it didn't show as much because new softwares and operating systems gobbled up all that processing. So even today, with easier access of operating systems the digital world still feels slow as MS-DOS time processing to me. Yes a lot of codes are crunched and processed in the background but still who cares about them as a consumer?!?! As a consumer I am concerned about what happens in front of me when I give a command via mouse, voice or a keyboard.
Downloading a 100MB book doesn't seem horrifying today. Infact my everyday uploads of images to stock agencies must be something around 1GB. Download depends upon what I find. But normally I would download around 3-4 GB of stuff if I had the time to find it. My computer is working 23.5 hours a day. It sleeps only for half an hour to cool down, that’s when I wake up. Just 10 years back in 2001, Michael Jackson's Invincible album was about to release. GHOST wasn't still available in India officially. The only way to get it was to download it from somewhere or ask someone in the US to mail it to me. The mailing idea failed so I resorted to finding out sources on the web. The only quality and reliable download I could find was using IRC protocol over a chat host. We used to have a 56.6 kbps line in an internet café which was 20kbps more than normal home connections. So considering that speed we needed around 72 or more hours to sit disconnected to download that stuff. Me and my friend did manage to do so with a lot of night time taken care of by my friend. With a failure due to disconnections
in between, we finally managed to download it one day by keeping the download on for around 4 days. Fortunately the hosts (like seeders we call for torrents today) were co-operative and we got our result.
I am sure than none of us are taking the high-speed connectivity or the increasing storage capacity for granted. I have some different question in my mind. Its not making me anxious nor very excited. Considering the way this connectivity speed, its ways and storage medium increasing and changing are we becoming slaves to the machines even before they are capable of becoming our masters? Its undeniable that we ourselves are powering machines with the intelligence and processing power that will help them overcome their limitations and mainly the dependency on humans. One huge snag in the connectivity like an EMP will struck like a bolt to almost everyone of us who use the internet even for 15 minutes in a day. The tendency to GOOGLE things or WIKI them to find quick answers is shutting down our natural memory capacity because we know that what we search for can be searched for again in a matter of seconds, while remembering it will take a lot of efforts. I am not going to go against this evolution that is inevitable but I can be sure that humans that are capable of storing and processing data without machines will triumph regardless of the failure or success of machines. The digital connectivity does help us reach out to more people than we can handle, but it is also taking out the time and quality we can give to fewer relations. So emotions and relations will be suffering as well.
How to prepare for this future? I don't think there is any other way than backing up all that data, all those online friends, all the knowledge we acquired in our own brains than relying on systems that don’t belong to us. If even 40% of the online companies providing free services go paid, we will stop using them and feel handicapped for quite much time. Its time to go and take that deep breath outside and still feel connected to the digital and real world!
Photo credits: Nikhil Gangavane.