"Hanging Up On iPhone"

Stephen Hackett:

I — like most people I observe in waiting rooms and in line at Starbucks — kill little bits of time with my head down, the glow of my smartphone lighting up my face. Twitter, App.net, Google Reader, Instagram, Email, iMessage, Tumblr and more wedge their way in to my life in little two-minute increments throughout the day.

I’m tired of it. So I’m fighting back — by retreating. I’m giving up my iPhone — my daily life partner for almost five years.

There is a distinct (and somewhat odd) sentiment of apprehension on the Internet toward personal experimentation.

Whether it's giving up an addictive smartphone or something rather more significant like, say, the Internet, onlookers seem to trip over themselves to decry and question the personal intentions of these individuals.

The most common oppositional argument I've heard is that the Internet and smartphones are simply not going to vanish. They are pieces of technology that are woven deeply into our society, and they will be carried with us — in some form or another — into the future. Thus, forgoing the usage of either is an effort in antiquated futility.

Although there's certainly merit to this perspective, I tend to think it callously overlooks and undermines the positivity within psychological exploration. Furthermore, without understanding the ramifications of the technological trajectory we’re following, how might we come to existentially comprehend our reliance upon technology?

Arguably these experiments of self-deprivation need not be published and shared exhaustively on the Internet, but, in my eyes, I think the lessons learned are of the utmost cultural significance to all of us.

Perhaps you disagree with Stephen about the pitfalls of carrying a smartphone with you at all times, but that's not to say that his findings shall be of little interest to you. Equally, whether he fails or succeeds, the results remain irrevocably meaningful.

Stephen, much like Paul Miller, is attempting to explore the technological trajectory we've collectively chosen to follow from an intensely personal perspective. And yet, much unlike Paul Miller, Stephen has sustained his ties to the technology he relies upon for the sake of realism.

Rather than simply blinding himself to an inevitable societal movement, Stephen is simply removing one item of technology from his life for one year. Yes, he will have a cellular iPad, a Mac, and a cellphone, but he will just not have an iPhone.

Moderate as that may appear, I consider it far more of a pragmatic experiment than others in this community.

So, for Stephen, I wish him all the best. Although there are alternative ways to explore the poison of technology, Stephen has chosen his own personal path, and it's certainly not my place to question his private thought and learning process.

I suspect that, regardless of the negativity swirling around his experiment, Stephen's findings will ultimately prove to be valuable to even the most staunch of his opponents. And, irrespective of how long the experiment lasts, I applaud Stephen for taking the bold step to challenge one of the most accepted and self-reliant elements of his day-to-day life.

For more information about his experiment, visit 512Pixels.

Offline: The Hurricane

Paul Miller:

Like millions of other people, I lost power during the storm — and for the days following. What I observed was a beautiful, slow version of Manhattan, where idle New Yorkers calmly scavenged for Doritos, wine, and cellphone signal. I spoke to people who, it seemed for the first time in ages, weren't concerned with their email. They wanted people on "the outside" to know they were safe, and they wanted something of ill nutrition to eat that night. That was about it.

This might not sound like whole buffalo utilization to you, but for me there's something about paying attention to the entire self, as it exists in reality, instead of merely the self that's required by others.

Amidst the awful stories emerging from New York over this past week, I strangely found myself wondering what the experience must've been like for one of the only people in the city not clamoring for wireless signals.

Disconnected and with little incentive to prey upon power outlets and spotty cellular connections, Paul Miller was able to appreciate and enjoy an environment much like his own. Although the circumstances were not exactly positive, I suspect this week will prove to be one of the most informative of Paul's offline experience.

Speaking to the fact that the Internet will not disappear from the world, it's fascinating to watch as he comes to comprehend the gravity of his disconnection and the meaningful impact this has upon his very consciousness.

Although many have dismissed Paul's "offline" life as a gimmick, I tend to think it's one of the most fascinating and unquestionably important experiments going on today. Perhaps that's a shallow assessment, but given the increasing ubiquity and saturation of technology, I think the assessment of psychological boundaries is of the utmost long-term significance for us as a society.

WSJ: Next iPhone Has Thinner In-Cell Display Technology


Juro Osawa and Lorraine Luk:

Apple Inc.’s next iPhone, currently being manufactured by Asian component makers, will use a new technology that makes the smartphone’s screen thinner, people familiar with the matter said, as the U.S. technology giant strives to improve technological features amid intensifying competition from Samsung Electronics Co. and other rivals.

[…] The technology integrates touch sensors into the LCD, making it unnecessary to have a separate touch-screen layer. The absence of the layer, usually about half a millimeter thick, not only makes the whole screen thinner, but the quality of displayed images would improve, said DisplaySearch analyst Hiroshi Hayase.

Considering how close the display already feels on the existing iPhone, I can only imagine such a rumored display would make quite an impression upon the user. Furthermore, the prospect is certainly within the bounds of plausibility, insofar as all rumors concerning the future iPhone have described it as being a much thinner device.

That said, as the rumor mill begins to pick up its pace ahead of the future iPhone’s unveiling, it’s perhaps a prudent time to provide a cautionary word regarding expectations.

When it comes to matters of rumor and conjecture, I tend to ignore the vast majority of outlets with the notable exception of The Wall Street Journal. Well placed for corporate leaks, the venerable publication has been historically proven largely accurate in its investigative reporting, particularly when it comes to Apple. Thus, although this rumor is unsubstantiated, I tend to consider it with a much higher-regard than I might if it were to come from a different publication.

Still, despite the credibility of the WSJ, there’s certainly no cause for any semblance of over-excited hyperbole concerning the viability of such display panels. We’re still, presumably, several months away from the unveiling of the future iPhone, plenty can change between now and then.