Thursday, October 23, 2008

Killing the Keyboard

"Had the instant message come first, and the telephone conversation second, what a triumphant technological breakthrough the phone call would now seem! How proudly the papers would unveil it, how breathlessly the business pages and Wired magazine would celebrate the innovation. Real-time conversation! Actual voices! Effortless dial-up-and-speak communication! No need to wear your fingers out just to say hello, how are you! At least, the realm of the real voice; hear your sweetheart's breathing! Listen to your best friend's cough. Enjoy! You are there, really there, at last. Steve Jobs would hold a press conference, holding the phone up high, with amazement. And the next day the back page of the business pages would have one of those defiant, declarative full-page ads: "Real speech! Real Time! The Real You." It would be on the cover of all the newsmagazines the following week. (And there would be contrarian op-ed pieces in the Times:"Why I Will Never Make a 'Phone' Call"; "The 'Phone Call'-- Is It Killing the Keyboard?")" -- Adam Gopnik, "Last Thanksgiving: Immensities" from Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York