Like virtually everyone else my age in the developed world, I have come to rely heavily on my smart phone. The many time-saving apps and the sheer convenience of having my email, day planner, recording device, music (and yes, even a phone) all in one place make it a pretty essential piece of equipment for the post-modern journalist.
Imagine my shock when this compact piece of technology began to fail me about two weeks ago. Being that it’s not an Apple product, all the iPhone owners out there may begin gloating now. And all technological naysayers can remind me how I never should have gone so far down this road.
Two hundred years ago in England, an angry mob of textile artists took issue with the new machinery spawned by the Industrial Revolution, which was quickly rendering their skills obsolete and allowing them to be replaced by low-paid, unskilled labourers. Supposedly spurred on by the smashing antics of a young Ned Ludd, the Luddites expressed their dislike of technology in physical terms, by smashing the newfangled machines, engaging in what historians have referred to as “collective bargaining by riot”.
Today’s Luddites — and the spirit definitely lives on within a small sector of our society — will undoubtedly disagree fundamentally with the idea of putting up six new cell phone towers in Kootenay National Park (see the Radium council briefs on the previous page).
To them, the move likely represents a further disturbance of a supposedly wild place, as well as an increased investment in technology that may one day fail us catastrophically.
And as those of us who work daily with software and networks can relate to, the small-scale catastrophes alone are difficult enough to deal with. In a way, we all channel our inner Luddite every time we feel to urge to annihilate our frozen computers.
We probably disagree with their methods, but Luddites might have been on to something with their inherent distrust of technology.