There is little to do on the bus ride from Brighton to Heathrow other than to listen to an iPod. So that’s exactly what I did on Thursday morning, using the time to catch up on some podcasts.
I listened to a Radiolab short called Pass the Science featuring the author Richard Holmes. Robert Krulwich positively raves about his book The Age of Wonder.
Immediately after that, I listened to an interview with Freeman Dyson. I had to grit my teeth through the climate denialism to get to the good bits about his spaceship designs.
During the interview, the subject of books came up. I knew that Dyson occasionally reviewed a book or two, having read his article about James Gleick’s The Information. He mentioned that one of the finest books he had recently read was …The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes.
The coincidence was too much. I decided I had to have this book. I jotted down the name of it in my notebook. Then I remembered …I had my Kindle with me.
Risking motion sickness, I turned it on just long enough to navigate to Amazon and download the book, overcoming my loathing of its hateful DRM.
Just to recap: based on recommendations received through audio signals sent from a handheld device that stored time-shifted conversations, I connected to a global network of machines to exchange currency and download a file onto another handheld device—all whilst travelling in a moving vehicle.
Living in the future feels pretty cool.
It was even cooler when I entered a heavier-than-air metal craft that was capable of counteracting the force of gravity long enough to take me halfway around the world in just half a day.
Wandering around Shanghai in a semi-jetlagged state also feels like living in the future—given timezone considerations, I kind of am in the future—and it also feels pretty cool.
The problem with seeing so many new sights and experiencing so many new experiences is that I have grown used to sharing them with the world via Twitter. Alas, the Great Firewall of China was forcing me to go cold turkey.
But then Jessica discovered something: it turns out that the 3G Kindle can circumvent China’s censorship (for now). My feeling of disconnectedness vanished the moment I pulled up mobile.twitter.com and saw the beautifully mundane updates from my friends across the world.
I still hate the DRM and I still have issues with the ludicrous pricing models of digital books but that’s twice now in as many days that the Kindle has given me something more than just a good reading experience.