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This is Miami, Home of the MetroZoo


Image by Stuart Haden

When I’m in the mood to splurge, I drive to Panera Bread and use their free Wi-Fi.  Like any of their other customers, I swing the glass door open, walk inside, and, if possible, find a booth away from the crowd.  Last night, much to my disturbance, many Miamians had the same itch for Wi-Fi, so I grabbed the first available table, which happened to be adjacent to a couple old men wearing flat caps, and connected to the router with my nifty MSi Wind.

In the middle of writing a post on Adolf Hitler Campbell, I felt both of the flat caps turn towards my table.

“Look at all these computers, Walter.  I can’t imagine what all these people could be doing on these computers.”

“I know.  I just can’t remember a time in my life when I needed a computer,” answered Walter.  “To this day, I get along just fine without a computer.”

The old men underscored each syllable of the word computer as they stared at my fingers dancing out the story of Adolf Hitler on the keyboard, which, on the MSi Wind, is about 80% the size of normal keyboards.

But I digress:  It wasn’t their gimlet eyes that I felt invading my bubble so much as it was the beaks of two flat caps.  If it were two months earlier, I would’ve been in complete agreement with the old men only because I had learned to do without the luxury of the Net for three years prior to that, part of my personal campaign to live without amenities, which is another way of saying that I lived in dimness.

I will not get into the details that lifted me out of the dim ages and into the world of technology, which, from where I stand, is the opposite of dim.  What I will say is that as my familiarity with computers grows I know now more than ever that these microprocessors are portals to be used to tap the nectarous artery of the World.  Put less pretentiously, I’ve been given, through no particular effort of my own, the privilege of collaborating in the grandest collaboration ever orchestrated on this planet.

Can’t these old men see that these computers are vehicles more powerful than the Model T?  That is not to say the Model T is insignificant or expendendable in the overall scheme of things, but the functionality of computers surpasses that of the Model T on an order too great to quantify.  Still these old men scorn technology.

Now I am not speaking of all old men, or even the majority of old men, but strictly these two men in flat caps in Panera Bread.

“You ready, Walter?”

My carotid pulsed a sigh of relief when the flat caps took their beaks off me.  The old men crumpled their napkins and pushed them inside their coffee cups.  This  action marked their exit.

I had a fleeting ambition to stop them at the glass door, sit them down in front of the 10.2″ MSi Wind screen, and have them watch this video by mwesch:

Where do Walter and his friend, who is equally dotaged, stand in relation to the 100 billion mouse clicks that happen daily on the Internet?  What are these two doing with their time while the world opens into new ends and feeds the machine?

Off in the bliss of ignorance they sauntered to their Model Ts parked side by side on the cobblestone.  I suspect that they drove home in silence or to the voices of AM talk radio.

January 10, 2009 12:50 am

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