This semester I am more unplugged than ever before.
However, lately I have found I rather enjoy the lack of instant access. Albeit I recognize having a cell phone (though I have what is deemed a 'dumb phone', not even comparable to my husband's iPhone with its dataplan) still allows me quite a bit of plugged-in-ness, I find that I really like having to walk to a computer, sit down, do my work, and get up to do the next thing. It's nice having to share one computer at home, because we try to get whatever we need done on it quickly so the other can use it and then we can both be done and do something together.
Previously I thought taking notes on a computer was so much more effective because I could type so fast that I recorded a lot of information, but I find I attend so much more to the material without a computer that I don't need to be able to type out as much. My husband and I have both now tried the computer v. paper notes and find that we both prefer the paper method in general, though I would still argue that there are some more advanced classes where having the internet at your fingertips (to look up what on earth the professor just said) can be beneficial, especially when the class is large.
I mostly got to thinking about this topic because of my classmate, Amy's post about technological overlays in Vinge's Rainbows End, how "real" such overlays are, and the "blunders" that might result from an inability to discern the difference between reality and technological interfaces. I have developed what I construe as a fine ability to multitask between many different "layers" (having many windows open in my browser and working on several things at one) on a computer, but the past two semesters as I've become more and more unplugged I've felt that I accomplish more in less time. I realize the irony of writing about this in a digital medium, but my hope is to write this post quickly and walk away from the computer for the rest of the afternoon if possible.
My husband and I had a long discussion about going "wireless" the other night and how technology is becoming more and more mobile and people are staying constantly connected to the rest of the world all the time. I don't think I like the expectation that I will answer a text or email immediately. I like the disconnect from the world, even if for just an afternoon at home or a weekend away from the computer. I feel society at large is becoming more and more dependent on these technologies, and Vinge's novel, taking that to an extreme, shows us completely dependent on them. I don't see our need to be digitally literate as inherently bad, but I definitely have come to find there's a delicate balance, as in many things. Overall, I am really enjoying my degree of unpluggedness.
Photo attributed to Samuel M. Livingston | Flickr