I used to carry a set of pocket-sized and mid-sized gadgets. Then technology reduced them to one gadget. But now in their places are a bunch of new pocket sized gadgets that I keep on carrying. Without North Face and Columbia making trousers with ample extra pockets, where would I be?

Currently in my list of pocket gadgets: a GPS, a smartphone (with so-so camera), a "real" digital pocket camera, a PSP, an internet tablet, a bluetooth keyboard, an ipod, an MP3/wav recorder, and of course one or more Moleskine notebooks (usually two: one for work, one for personal notes, and sometimes a third for watercolor pencils). On the edge of these are the mid-sized gadgets, a ruggedized La Cie hard drive, an ASUS Eee laptop, an SLR -- not quite pocketable. Memory cards. Batteries. Earbuds.

The Moleskine and the keyboard, unlike the others, are defined by the limits of human design -- they just can't get smaller and be usable. I've no doubt that the others will collapse into something unified and smaller and instead of empty pockets I'll have some need for another generation of well-marketed pocketables. Heads-up displays for pedestrians, with integrated games? Some desperate need to keep the text of the Library of Congress within arm's length? Every episode of Heroes (and Hogan's Heroes) for ready reference? Water contamination meter? Celphone-camera detector (and laser disabler)?

Looking at street photos of a century ago, or even fifty or thirty years ago. What we don't see in those photos? Stuff. Kids with a couple of books, not a filled roller pack. People on the street without briefcases, backpacks, phones -- even in the financial districts.

In an hour or so I'm off to Spain. I'd like to think I'm packing light, and my clothes are light. It's the STUFF: no internet tablet, no mics or headphones, but the ASUS and the SLR (w/two short prime lenses), a strobe, two moleskines, the wee pocket digi, the recorder & GPS & ipod start to add up. Or do they? Total for everything: one half-filled backpack.

Comments on "Pockets"

June 23, 2008 02:33 PM

"Looking at street photos of a century ago, or even fifty or thirty years ago. What we don't see in those photos? Stuff."

I wonder about this every time I look at those pictures. Nobody seems to have more than a hat and maybe a newspaper or an umbrella.

What was different? There weren't gadgets of course, but few people's backpacks are as full of those as yours. Are we too soft about being hot & cold? (Mine always seems to have at least one layer, in summer against aircon.) Do we try to multitask more, and so are less likely to leave all our office papers on the desk? Were we all irreprably harmed by being driven around the suburbs as kids?

I envy them, walking like that is a stroll not a hike.

June 23, 2008 02:36 PM

ps. It would be nice if your blog would warn people that it's going to give their email to the spam robots. (They already have mine, luckily!)

Kevin Bjorke
June 24, 2008 01:50 AM

Interesting point! I'll rebuild the template to shut some of that spamability down. The current template uses the Moveable Type "antispam" feature but it just means it needs a better class of spambot.

I worked hard on minimizing my walking kit during this last trip. Those trouser side pockets were a bonus, as was the fact that my mobile phone was turned off (and left at the hotel). I stuck with either my smallest "murse" or less when out and around.

For the last many months I've also been suppressing the urge to bring a laptop to meetings. Just a Moleskine. It's a big improvement & has cut my time stuck in mtgs considerably.


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