Designed in 2 Minutes?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Contactability

One of my friends, the ever-enthusiastic Andrew Oakley of Middlesex University, was recently chatting with me on Skype (http://www.skype.com), the free internet phone service which is taking the world by storm.

We'd been discussing the Skype API which allows third-parties to create software which 'hooks' into Skype in order to provide extra functionality, such as Business Card export or a voicemail program which we'd just discovered and were testing.

Andrew made the following rather amusing observation:

We invent telephones to talk to people.
We invent answer machines to catch em if we're out.
Then we invent mobile phones so we can catch people if they're out.
Then we invent voicemail incase there's no signal.
Then we invent Skype incase they're on the net.
Then we invent Skype voicemail just incase you still can't get them!!!!

It's quite a good description of how we strive to be ever more 'contactable' in our new digital world. Contrast this with some remote parts of Africa where they don't even use timekeeping devices, and certainly no mobile phones, so it's common to be waiting for someone to turn up for a meeting for most of the morning.

But without the pressure we Capitalists suffer of making every second profitable and attempting to be contactable at any given moment of the day, it's not something that matters so much to these people in the grand scheme of things.

Maybe all of us should learn from this, take a break and just disappear somewhere remote, away from all digital technology and the concept of timekeeping, and just enjoy life as it comes?! :-)

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