Saturday, November 30, 2013

What is Mobile Technology? Moronica has an answer!

I come across this term so often. The absurdity of it becomes really profound when I have to stop and take a call on my mobile (handset) while enjoying a leisurely bike ride.

And when I think of this term, I also come to think a bit about the term preceding this ubiquitous term. Information Technology.

Mobile Technology.

Mobile is an adjective saying something about the word Technology. In another era, it could just as well have meant technology that moves (technology that is mobile. This seems like a facile elaboration but hold on a second).

Technology that moves?

Really?! I mean we are carrying that handset with us. It isn't carrying us. Neither does it move on its own. At best, it only leads us to stop in the tracks, whichever track we are on.

Think of it. It's at best a receiver of information. Or rather, receiver of information in different forms. Ok, add a bit more. Wireless receiver of information in different forms. Ok, yet more. Wireless Receiver of information in different forms and 'reminder' of the same. I will pander to the nerds. They'll insist, it's also about gaming. I rest my case.

Again. Mobile Technology.

Without the fancy baggage of what technology companies have made us believe, think about it. Couldn't it just as well mean that technology that 'spurs us to move' or 'enables us to move', or 'inspires us to move'... You get it. That's MOBILE TECHNOLOGY. Technology that moves (the user of the technology).

Yes, one might ask further. 'Moves the user'? How? What is the meaning of 'user'? Is it a car? Shouldn't it be driver?

Good questions! Figure out the answer. I'll share when I have more. Until then, it would suffice to say that Mobile Technology is at best simply a Wireless Technology. The same old 'wireless' that we understand, but in a much more advanced/efficient form. And Wireless is a better descriptor.

Now for the next term. Information Technology.

This term, I sense, has killed the understanding of information itself. It seems now, information that's passed using digital transmission technology is our only conscious understanding of information. Which is text (that can be read), images (that can be seen), sounds (that can be heard). Mark that phrase 'conscious understanding' in the previous sentence.

It's a weird thing to be reminded of the fact that the sense to smell, to touch et al are brilliant means to gather and transmit information. Perhaps richer and more reliable. That pat on your back from behind by a friend meaning to surprise you... So now that Information Technology clouds our understanding of 'information' itself, should we call these forms of information as Sensorial Information. And our senses as Sensorial Information Technology?

As I come to a close here, people have been meaning to distinguish data and information. Perhaps rightly so. In which case, Information Technology is a misnomer. It should ideally be called Digital Data Transmission Technology. DDTT. Sounds better than IT, huh?

And revising my earlier declaration. It should be Wireless Digital Data Transmission Technology. And the gadget that receives such data, Wireless Digital Data Receiver. Or someone more puritanical might call it Wireless Digital Data Transmitter/Receiver. Chemisty/Physics nerds would like to impose their version: Wireless Digital Data Conductor.

And we've got a penchant for short-forms. So Moronica would respond by saying that our body is SDR! And we are in possession of SDTT!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Automobile is a convenient lie and traffic is exactly what it was meant to be

From wikipedia:
The word automobile comes, via the French automobile from the Ancient Greek word αὐτός (autós, "self") and the Latin mobilis ("movable"); meaning a vehicle that moves itself.
We are still struggling with artificial intelligence. Do you really believe a vehicle moves itself? Then what exactly do you do sitting in that vehicle?

Let's say you don't move the vehicle. Do you still believe that the vehicle is moving itself?

Read more from wikipedia:
The loanword was first adopted in English by The New York Times in 1899.
If the belief of/in the word 'automobile' has resulted in losses to you (I can't think of a loss that's well-articulated and measured though), time to sue the NYT :).

Wikipedia has more on the origins of the word 'car':
The alternative name car is believed to originate from the Latin word carrus or carrum ("wheeled vehicle"), or the Middle English word carre ("cart") (from Old North French), in turn these are said to have originated from the Gaulish word karros (a Gallic Chariot).
Now the concept of wheeled vehicle sounds like the true description, isn't it?

And we are also unnecessarily bothered by 'traffic'. It's meant to be just what it is. Flow but slow. Again from wikipedia:
Traffic in English is taken from the Arabic word taraffaqa, which means to walk along slowly together.
And yet we keep cursing. May be they never told us about company in traffic. We've got some nasty teachers :).

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Disturbing pic of my early morning bedroom and how the Japanese got it right

The funniness of what we call as 'bedroom', in the modern context, has dawned upon me. And quite conclusively.

In the second line of the wikipedia page on 'bedroom', you find this:
To be considered a bedroom the room needs to have a bed.
Actually, this line makes it feel like 'bed' is just one of the objects in the bedroom. Quite so. But mathematics isn't just about numbers. It's also about space. The modern bedroom is typically filled with the bed, in a manner that no other substantial object can be placed or accommodated in the bedroom. At least, for the majority of people who've been able to afford a bedroom.

And that no other substantial object can be placed in the bedroom, means other than resting or sleeping or making love (variants of the same posture I would say), no substantial activity can take place.

Given that a mighty number of us find ourselves doing work which doesn't quite make us exert ourselves, at least physically, in any great manner, this bedroom turns out to be a great roadblock on the way to good health. Let me elaborate.

We have risen substantially in population. Per capita space available is very limited. That's the reason we find such congestion on the roads, in the malls, in the gyms et al. And when I mention gym, I can easily say that reaching the gym is also an inconvenience in general, in a world which has made contraptions for convenience of all kinds even for the smallest of things we do.

After entering the gym, the nightmare doesn't end. Certain gadgets or equipment might have queues for use.

That makes whatever per capita space available to us a really precious thing. Space that is undividedly available for personal use, no matter the time. And that is occupied by the bed.

First you shape the building, then the building shapes you.

So you start shaping your undivided personal space with a good bed in the little space you have for yourself. Now is the bed's turn to shape you. And shapes you, it does. Pretty well.

Am I saying bed isn't needed?

Nope! Given the space an individual has to himself and the work he does in the modern context, I am saying naming the space blindly as 'bedroom' has entailed a massive cost on our well-being. We've taken it for granted that such a space can be nothing but a 'bedroom'. And the thing that we end up doing is installing a bed that doesn't leave much space for very very important things. And our architects and interior designers perpetuate the crime.

Let me go back a bit. When the convenient technologies weren't available and when majority of the people exerted themselves physically and really hard during the day, they perhaps found it very very comforting to come back home, do nothing more than cooking and eating, and simply go to bed. Having a ready mattress would be the perfect luxury. Since the space outside the house exercised majority of the people, inside the house dedicating space to sleeping was just a great complement. But now, no longer so.

In fact, there's very little space outside for healthy exertion. And, even inside, there's mostly the bed.

If we really want to make the space available count and if we really want a healthy body, here are a couple of things.

Futon. We all have seen this thing. From wikipedia:
A futon is traditional Japanese bedding consisting of padded mattresses and quilts pliable enough to be folded and stored away during the day, allowing the room to serve for purposes other than as a bedroom.

There's more. Wall-bed. Also called Murphy bed. Wikipedia narrates the legend:
According to legend, he (William Lawrence Murphy) was wooing an opera singer, but living in a one-room apartment in San Francisco, and the moral code of the time frowned upon a woman entering a man's bedroom. Murphy's invention converted his bedroom into a parlor, enabling him to entertain.
Now that surely takes care of a man's health, no!