Time: 18:00 (this post was originally written several days ago)
Location: somewhere about a quarter of the way between Sydney and Los Angeles
Whenever I’m doing another halfway trip around the globe, there’s a few things that repeat. It’s essentially the same themes, but there are the slight changes between trips.
The first thing is that the technology changes. I guess that’s perhaps the most obvious one, because that’s the source of the most social change nowadays. Our interaction with technology has changed the way we look at reading and writing; it has permeated the way that we interact with eachother, and redefined what it means to work or play “together.” It has changed the way we listen to music– its not just a social event where concerts and cigarette lighters anymore. Its about viral sounds that we share and distribute, underlined by collections of metadata and somewhere in the back of all that is reverb of copyright law problems that were unfathomable a century ago.
Transportation, though, has remained relatively simple. Getting from the proverbial point “A” to point “B” has always essentially been a question of time and space. And even when considering those dimensions, the last few centuries of transportation advancement have really been dealing with “the space” factor– that is to say, the physical challenge of moving us faster from one place to the next.
The difference that I’m noticing over the last decade of my short life though is that this is getting to the point where this isn’t advancing anymore. The obvious example is traffic. If you’ve lived at the same place for the last decade, and worked at the same place for the last decade, that’s the easiest example. They might be building new and wider highways, but you’re not getting there any faster. If anything, however it is that you’re getting there, you’re getting there slower than you did or would have 10 years ago, because of the simple fact of traffic.
Planes and boats might have gotten faster, but at the same time– you’re spending more time doing security checks.
And my point isn’t that the mode of transportation has tottalled more or less time. Actually, that’s rather unimportnat. Your car ride is probably taking longer than it used to. Maybe the metros feel like they’re more crowded with annoying people than they used to. But when you get on a plane? Really, there’s not that much difference between spending 10 hours on it or 12 hours. The advancements in the dimension of space travel have really not been all that impressive.
But what about time?
I don’t have a term for what I’m trying to talk about, but I’ll give you an idea of what has altered and advanced in the transportation area over the years through technology. It all has to do with time. Smartphones, tablets, portably gaming cosoles, portable video… even the in flight movies that I’ve been watching, and the 13 hours of battery life remaining on this netbook. This is all about time.
Or rather, about /spending time/ as are in transit.
My point is this: technology seems to have gotten a bit stumped as to figuring out how to improve on the spatial dimensions of travel. But it has come up with nothing but open doors as to the temporal issue, to change the way we perceive that passing of time.
Whether it’s thorugh entertainment or piping the lost time productivity, technology has cleverly pulled a misdirection on our innate impatience with transportation.
It’s clever, to be sure.
Yes, thanks for inventing 6 cell batteries so that my netbook runs about 25 times longer than my old laptop. But no matter how much I have to do, no matter how much fun I can have or how much work I can get done, only the spatial element has a direct influence on how sore my ass gets and how cramped I feel.
So I wish someone would get back to work on personal teleportation, because , at the end of the day, all the entertainment and productivity options are just illusions to mask the theft of time, precious time, that we would rather be spending elsewhere.
There is some truth to the addage “time well wasted” I suppose, but waste is waste…