Just this week, I faced the unfortunate, though somewhat inevitable malfunction of my cellphone. With this misfortune came the loss 95% of the contacts in my address book. Like we all would be, I was frustrated, but then it dawned on me just how lucky I was to only lose the limited data on had on my el cheapo slide phone, and not the massive pool that guides many in their day to day navigation of life via a smart phone.
My replacement decision - another el cheapo. With the amount of time I spend in the field, answering calls with wet and salty hands, the hardware cost and risk in losing bulk smart phone data just isn't worth it. The salesperson at the wireless store was surprised with my decision. Being due for an upgrade, I could've walked out of there with an iPhone for next to nothing, but elected to spend the $30 on el cheapo nonetheless. And then I explained why with the question...
do you remember what it was like to NOT rely on data?
This is all very new in the world. Less than a decade ago e-mail was still not the primary mode of e-contact. Texting, twittering, and Facebook posts were still just someone's dream. I use data as an effective tool in many applications - this Blog is a great example. My ability to write on topics as they occur in near real time allow me to communicate, reach an audience likely interested in today's very real topics, and most importantly, continue to build an audience by expanding data delivery on the web - climbing the ranks of the search engines - for better, or worse.
Fifteen years ago, I recall getting various work/dive assignments handed to me in the written form - often on the back of Dunkin Donuts napkins. Today they come by text and email. While we may be saving the trees from an ill found fate as a Dunking Donuts napkin, look at the risks we take with data. Is it secure? Can it be lost? What happens if it all gets wiped out? Point is, I see the value in it as a tool, but not as a replacement for social independence and the ability to effectively communicate face to face with a normal person - in the flesh that is.
That perspective may come with my living and working in a blue collar industry, where turning wrenches fills more of the day than buying and selling digital media. Frankly, what scares me is the day when the system fails to work due to our media and data dependence. This is much bigger than losing one's personal contacts in a cellphone - we're talking about major commerce shutdown. It could very well happen, and it is scary - scarier than losing one's personal cellphone contacts.