I heart my laptop, for a brief shining moment

Today a marketing research video showed a respondent talking about her laptop. Her affection was so palpable that, as the analysis pointed out, it looked like she was ready to embrace it.

And for good reason. It truly is not just a unit for computing. It’s the place where she keep so much that is important by any fair measure — probably all the pictures of who she loves and where she’s been, all the music she listens to, all the phone numbers she calls. It’s got all the letters she’s written, and most of the answers. It’s where she stores her ideas, if she has any. It projects her movies. It’s got the basic tools she uses for running her life. It’s liable to be full of jokes, things to see and tasks to do.

What’s amazing isn’t that the computer matters to her, it’s that she sees it at all. This is a brief historic moment when the technology is good enough to bring all that stuff together, but new enough that anyone notices. In another few years the laptop — or the device that replaces it — will just be a machine, just so much junk, the way the desktop PC or the Walkman are just things we use, amazing as they were in their time.

The firm that did the research really should preserve the clip for a future museum of technical progress. It’s always striking to see how the things that are utterly normal to us today meant something totally different in another context.

I should admit that I sometimes get a flash of that same feeling about my laptop, as wheezy a solution as it is for holding much of what I treasure. While it still matters, I suppose I should get myself one that I too can treasure, if only for a few moments before it fades into the routines of just so much stuff.

One thought on “I heart my laptop, for a brief shining moment

  1. Dylan Cotter says:

    You’re so right. It’s remarkable how quickly we take things for granted, and how soon after that we grumble about them not being up to scratch. How we whinge ad nauseum in airport departure lounges because, goddamn it, with this delay it’s going to take us five AND A HALF hours to cross the Atlantic (it took my grandmother a week).
    How we drum our fingers on our desks with violent impatience because the entire National Library is taking three ticks instead of two to download. How we send snotty emails to Apple because the batteries in our iPods are only lasting 12 hours per charge.
    Something in our psyche prevents us from marvelling at anything for more time than it takes to possess it. I suppose it’s what makes us so ambitious and relentlessly evolutionary as a species, but it’s a real pain in the ass on a day to day basis. Flying machines! All the information in the world on a screen on your desk! A thousand albums in a little glowing yoke the size of a cig box! It’s all magic! Yeah yeah, whatever.

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