John Leonard an audience of one.

About Projects Now Archive

Dumb

Todays’ inspiration comes from the excellent post by Shawn Blanc from several months ago - Dumb.

I am fortunate enough to own a decent watch - a Tag Heuer, given to me by my father when I turned forty years old (nearly four years ago, now). The watch tells the time, and gives me the current date in a little window. That’s it. It’s waterproof, shockproof and looks beautiful. It also cost more than my iPhone - in fact, it cost twice as much as my first car.

If I were to be offered such limited functionality in anything other than a watch then I would be horribly disappointed and wouldn’t buy it. Yet I put up with this in a watch simply because it has two functions - to tell me the time, and to act as the only piece of jewellery I wear (apart from my wedding ring, of course). I have seen the pebble on another mans’ wrist and it looks like a ridiculous piece of cheap plastic.

Perhaps this is me being a snob - no, I take that back, this is me being a snob. I love my expensive watch for the sense of pleasure it gives me when I look at it, the heavy sense of solidity I get when I snap it onto my wrist, and the feeling of value I have in this adornment - it carries value and will do for years, and in years to come I’ll be able to hand it down to my son as a family heirloom.

My phone provides me all the notifications I need and it sits in my pocket. If I need to check my twitter feed, or email, or anything else, then I pull the phone out of my pocket and I check it. It’s that conscious action that makes me mindful of the time I am spending on it, and as such it stays at the front of mind. By slightly pulling up my shirt cuff and glancing at my watch I find out what time it is - I don’t need to interact with my phone and I don’t get distracted as a result.

I know that this level of interaction is not the norm for a lot of geeky people; especially if they use their devices to handle their daily interaction. I use a desk phone at work, and a company laptop, so I only rely on my phone for personal stuff and so I can afford to put it in my pocket and ignore it. I am fortunate in this regard. I can understand the need for notifications if it is work related, but do we really need every facet of our social interactions to be pushed in front of our eyes at the moment it is received? I get enough of that on my phone when I do occasionally look at it; having that information in front of me at all times would be a special kind of torture.

In the future, when I earn more money and have more disposable income, I’ll upgrade my watch to something more expensive and equally jewel like. It will still just tell the time.