2017 minus 72: Adams’ Rules

Posted: 21 October 2016 in 2017 minus, social media

No, I can’t do it.

I started to write a piece about the final Presidential Debate, and Trump’s behaviour then and later, and… and… and… no. Not today. Oh, I don’t think I’d have any problem writing about it; but I try to keep this place relatively all-ages and I found it impossible to do that. I’ll take another run at it after the weekend. 

If you’re reading this, you’re more than likely familiar with Douglas Adams’ rules of tech:

  1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
  2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
  3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

While I’d argue against both the age limits, and these days limit it to applications and software rather than ‘kit’, I don’t think the sentiment is far off. 

I have an iPhone 6S and an iPad Air, and carry both around with me most of the time. Or to repeat myself, I carry around two computers. 

Because that’s what they are. To misquote a line from an old advert about the Victoria and Albert museum’s café, the smaller device is a phone with quite a nice computer attached.

That’s the thing: as a mobile phone, the 6S is all right, I guess. It does the job, but I so rarely talk on the phone these days (maybe one call a day, if that); it’s primary purpose is of a small computer that allows me to listen to the radio, or music, check social media, read the news, occasionally write on (though I tend to use the bigger device for that). But a mobile phone?

I’ve had an iPhone since 2008 came out and it’s fair to say that once the App Store was created and I began to get used to “everything in the world” (as David Gorman once described the Internet) being on my phone, or at least available to it, the “phone” bit of “iPhone” became less important to me, and to most people.

Before that? I went through loads of mobile phones, about one every year or 18 months; mainly Nokia, with a few Samsung slide-phones, all of which I enjoyed using, although my favourite was still the Nokia 5210, a rubber encased thing that was just sheer fun to use.

The only phone I got that I disliked instantly and in fact returned was something called the O2 Cocoon, genuinely the only ‘bad’ tech I think I’ve ever owned. A horrible, horrible piece of shit that I genuinely cannot understand anyone thinking that it wasn’t a horrible horrible pieve of shit

But it could at least be argued that mobile phones were around before I was 35, and so Douglas’ second rule applies. And iPads are merely computers with a different input method.  

In fact, almost all tech, almost every piece of equipment I can think of… it’s been around in some form or another for a very very long time. Sure it can do more, sure it’s lighter, but… but… but… how far should I take that. Is a motorbike essentially the same as a bicycle? Is a car just a cart without a horse?

As I suggested earlier, it’s in the realm of software and applications that I find myself agreeing with Douglas Adams more and more. 

One could argue that blogging is just an evolution of the diary, and that I – as a child of the 1960s and 1970s – surely kept a diary as a young lad. And one would be utterly, completely wrong. Not about me keeping a diary, but because I did so, I know that a blog is nothing like a diary

With the rare exceptions of politicians and actors who might, in the back of their heads, think they might one day publish it, a diary was never meant to be read by anyone other than the author. If I’d thought that anyone would read my Letts’ Diaries (complete with ‘history of the world’ section), I’d never have written even half of what I wrote in it. There are women now in their 50s -classmates – who would be traumatised to know I had  crushes on them back then, for a start.

(Odd tangential thought: I wonder if people mentioned in diaries of famous people ever see references to themselves and think ‘huh, I never knew they fancied me’.)

When I started work, and was using the newer software the companies had: WordPerfect, Lotus 123 and the rest, I was always mildly amused at the older members of staff who were very happy thank you but they’ll stick with the software they knew. I’m less amused now that I find myself doing the same thing. 
I’ve forced myself to use Pages and Numbers (but still think of them as Apple’s versions of Word and Excel) on the iPad – and on iPhone when I have to – but I still miss the Excel in particular. 

I use WhatsApp and Skype occasionally, mainly – but not exclusively – for people outside the UK. But it’s still text messaging/iMessage for folks inside the UK.

Snapchat? No, really ‘not my thing’. And nor are almost all of the ‘new’ apps that are social media based. And I have no idea whether it’s the ‘new’ or the ‘social’ aspects that put me off. 


Looking through the apps I constantly use, with the exception of games that interest me briefly and then I delete them (I can’t remember the last time I found a ‘new’ game that I liked to the point of keeping it on the phone for more than a few weeks), they’re all either research tools or things to make day. to day life easier. Nothing there that’s ‘new’ or ‘exciting’.

Emoji. I’m sure they’re fun and all but… no. I don’t know what most of them mean, and they pop up in tweets and texts too ‘small’ for me to instantly understand them. I can cope with the ‘smiley’ and the occasional acronym – I still instinctively think <s> and <g> not :-) – but then I discovered those when I got online… when I was 31.

When I was 31.

“Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary”

Huh, what do you know? Douglas Adams was right all the time.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to 1st January 2017. You can see other posts in the run by clicking here.


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