I am still in Pasadena, bathing in the decanted light that is winter in southern california. The conference on luxury by Virginia Postrel was really interesting, and I got to hear several very smart people say some revelationally smart things.
But as I wait to leave for the airport, I realize I have that terrible affliction, cursor crawl. The cursor on my screen is no longer still. It now heads up the screen at a slow but steady pace. This turns my GUI into a game of whack-a-mole. No sooner have I positioned the cursor over the thing I wish to "click" than it serenely continues its journey upwards, so that by the time I click, I am out of range. Now, I position the cursor below the thing I wish to click, and wait. Crawl and click, it’s a brand new game from Kenner.
This should be a minor convenience, and, if I had a sense of humor, it might even be a little fun. But instead it is pretty close to agony. Watching the cursor crawl up the screen is indeed so painful, it might as well be making that sound of a nail on a blackboard. Something happens to my nervous system, and I feel like shouting (which, it turns out, is not allowed at a Westin).
Something has happened to my nervous system. It now presupposes the existence of computer technology (in this case a ThinkPad X40). This machine is no longer "at my finger tips." It is now my finger tips and, in good moments, the instrumentality that does my bidding in the electronic world. To have some part of this malfunction begins to feel like a very personal malady, and an intolerable handicap.
This evokes a one of the theme’s of Virginia’s conference: that the luxuries of one generation have a way of becoming the necessities of the next. This effect has happened in my life time. Email, once kinda of useful, is now essential. When failing technology turns it into a game of whack-a-mole, well, I’m a deeply unhappy guy. I believe Adam Smith would understand.