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  1.    #1  
    The Gadget as Fetish, or The Postmodern PDA
    Communist Imagery and the PDA
    -By Dieter Bohn

    Preface
    ...This is what you get when you allow left-wing academics and technolgy to mix. Before, we had hypertextuality and the New Media, now you're stuck with some hack who's trying to poke you up by calling you a Red-loving commie radical. Hah!

    Also note the postmodernism inherent in this essay isn't in its literal content, but in the subtext of how it regards itself and how its author regards it. i.e. as comple bulls**t.

    So the impetus of all this is I won the Treo and have been waiting a L_O_N_G time for it. I realized that I have spent quite a bit of time waiting for my next gadget. I further realized that quite a bit of the folk on this board spend quite a bit of time waiting for the next big thing.

    The Gadget as Fetish
    I've seen many references to gadget lust as a kind of addiction, that moment when you headily rip open the box and toss aside the extra paraphanelia and pull out the new thing is indeed a rush. And our time here spent speculating, hoping, wishing serves as a kind of self-help group for junkies.

    I've also seen more than a few references to gadgets as a kind of religion. We turn our PDAs into fetishes, giving them a special importance in our lives and giving them burnt offerings of registered shareware, cases, and screen protection. Our time here spent adoring our fetishes and attacking the fetishes of others is a kind of group worship. We are a congregation of the gadget, placing it high in our pantheon of adoration.

    Many people disclaim these metaphors by emphasizing the gadget's use as a tool. Indeed, much of our talk is about the various merits of different applications, buttons, and expansion options. The real ends, we tell ourselves, are our own lives and needs.

    Of course, you have to be willing to admit that for those of us who freqent these gadget sites they are both a means and an end. The PDA is both a fetish and a hammer. But what happens when the tool becomes a fetish?. I'll tell you: In many ways, our love of technology is much like the communist's love of the proletariat.

    Both claim that the reason for their obsession is actually the workings of reason on life. It's not, we claim, a religion or some dogmatic obesiance to a system of thought, but a practical solution based on our needs. This is, for a many communists and PDA enthusiasts, very true. Most international communists ended up deploring the U.S.S.R. and had real debates amongst themselves about communism and how it could help people. Similiarly, many PDA'ers argue against staid devotion to one camp (the PPCists, the SONYites) and talk of the utility of their fetishes.

    On the flip side, when the chips are down, both seem to exhibit the very things they claim not to. They are based on need and reason, but act as a religion. Both turn tools into objects of abstraction and worship. The communists had the plow, the hammer and sickle, we have our gadgets. Even the names of the gadgets are fetishistic and sound, well, like proletarian rhetoric: the utilitarian numbering system of Palm, the mysterious Cli-A, the Treo, even our lovable Flip. Obviously, the tones of these images are different-communism was obsessed with the worker and the PDAer with technology-but the effects and the primal causes seem to be the same.

    So what lessons can we draw from this? As I said, these thoughts have come about mainly due to my having to wait and my observations of the idealizations of the PDA future that I often see on these boards. Not only do we see predictions for "super-gadgets," but we see even the most practical among us yearn for future days when their PDA will be easy to use, to see, indeed, to love. The idealizations sound to me much like the early yearnings for the coming of the revolution. Someday all workers will be united. Someday the bourgeoise will fall.

    If our fetishization of the tool we call the Palm is of the same time as the communist's fetishization of the worker and his craft, shouldn't we either go whole hog and join the movement (er, the company) or find some way to put it all in perspective--else we become dilletantes? If our waiting for the next big thing is of the same type as the communist's waiting for the revolution, ought we either work actively to bring this future about or at least be realistic about the present?

    In short, shouldn't we start up our own company to combat these capitalist dogs? Or at least find a way to use the tool without fetishizing it?
  2. #2  
    Wow! There's a lot of words.

    I burnt a lamb the other day to speed delivery of my handera.
    -Joshua
    I've decided to become enigmatic.
  3. #3  
    I think the level of a person's fetishization of the PDA can be directly related to the number of posts said person has made on these boards.
    It's gotta be weather balloons. It's always weather balloons. Big, fiery, exploding weather balloons.
    -- ComaVN (from Slashdot)
  4.    #4  
    Originally posted by sowens
    I think the level of a person's fetishization of the PDA can be directly related to the number of posts said person has made on these boards.
    You ain't whistlin dixie, chester.
  5. #5  
    posts = prayer?
    "I am a debtor both to Greeks and to Barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish."
  6. #6  
    Originally posted by BobbyMike
    posts = prayer?
    posts = Penance
    ToDos/Memos = Prayer
    Did you just go near a burning hot river of lava or are you just happy to see me?
  7. #7  
    You should see the amount of gadgets I collected over the years......

    On my last trip I lost my leatherman Micra... damn I miss that thing.. You never know what you miss till you loose it...

    Just my Luck when I ordered a dive computer, my diving club had a great offer for a top of the line diving computer... now I'm stuck with 2...
    <IMG WIDTH="200" HEIGHT="50" SRC=http://www.visorcentral.com/images/visorcentral.gif> (ex)VisorCentral Discussion Moderator
    Do files get embarrassed when they get unzipped?
  8. #8  
    This isn't applicable to only technological gadgets. It's applicable to any human-loved object. Shoes. Beany Babies. Cars. Art. Furniture. Dolls. The Garden. The house. The bowling trophy, etc...
    We're all naked if you turn us inside out.
    -David Byrne
  9. #9  
    Originally posted by homer
    It's applicable to any human-loved object.
    perhaps we need to throw off the shackles of our possessions, our gadgets, our things. There was a time, after all, when people got along just fine without them. What have our gadgets wrought?

    sez the guy who really wants a steadier income so he can get more gadgets.
    The light at the end of your tunnel has been disconnected due to non-payment. Please remit funds immediately for restoration of hope.
  10.    #10  
    Originally posted by homer
    This isn't applicable to only technological gadgets. It's applicable to any human-loved object. Shoes. Beany Babies. Cars. Art. Furniture. Dolls. The Garden. The house. The bowling trophy, etc...
    What is particular to gadgets, however, is the utopian dream, the future-looking aspect to our desires. it is in this way that our technological fervor is perhaps most like a communist's revolutionary fervor.
  11. #11  
    Originally posted by Yorick
    perhaps we need to throw off the shackles of our possessions, our gadgets, our things. There was a time, after all, when people got along just fine without them. What have our gadgets wrought?
    Eh, they got along fine without them simply because they didn't have them.

    In general, I tend to agree with this. The only caveat is that if the gadget/technology improves your "quality of life"/"peace of mind", then it's all good. This is the reason that I've decided to stick with my Edge instead of buying the sexy new t615. The t615 just doesn't offer any increase in my peace of mind over the Edge.



    Well, that and the fact that my washing machine committed suicide over the weekend, and I can't afford the t615 now.
    It's gotta be weather balloons. It's always weather balloons. Big, fiery, exploding weather balloons.
    -- ComaVN (from Slashdot)
  12.    #12  
    Originally posted by sowens
    In general, I tend to agree with this. The only caveat is that if the gadget/technology improves your "quality of life"/"peace of mind", then it's all good.
    AHA! A child of the Revolution! Arise, young gadgethead, and join the masses!

    remember, even an acolyte of David Koresh thought he had "good quality of life/peace of mind"
  13. #13  
    Originally posted by volcanopele
    posts = Penance
    Oddly enough, I still don't feel sanctified.
    -Joshua
    I've decided to become enigmatic.
  14.    #14  
    Originally posted by ****-richardson

    Oddly enough, I still don't feel sanctified.
    I do. Once you reach 2000, you become a minor VC deity and no longer need sanctification.
  15. #15  
    Originally posted by dietrichbohn

    I do. Once you reach 2000, you become a minor VC deity and no longer need sanctification.
    When you reach a thousand, do you become a demi-god?

    Jason
    Did you just go near a burning hot river of lava or are you just happy to see me?
  16. #16  
    Originally posted by volcanopele
    When you reach a thousand, do you become a demi-god?
    that probably happens around 1500 ... I just feel enlightened.
    The light at the end of your tunnel has been disconnected due to non-payment. Please remit funds immediately for restoration of hope.
  17. #17  
    Originally posted by Yorick

    that probably happens around 1500 ... I just feel enlightened.
    You are a dummy-god @ 1000
    <IMG WIDTH="200" HEIGHT="50" SRC=http://www.visorcentral.com/images/visorcentral.gif> (ex)VisorCentral Discussion Moderator
    Do files get embarrassed when they get unzipped?
  18. #18  
    Originally posted by ToolkiT
    You are a dummy-god @ 1000
    HEY!

    just 'cause my head is empty ... grumble grumble ...
    The light at the end of your tunnel has been disconnected due to non-payment. Please remit funds immediately for restoration of hope.
  19. #19  
    Originally posted by Yorick

    HEY!

    just 'cause my head is empty ... grumble grumble ...
    your head is empty, yet recently full of love
    <IMG WIDTH="200" HEIGHT="50" SRC=http://www.visorcentral.com/images/visorcentral.gif> (ex)VisorCentral Discussion Moderator
    Do files get embarrassed when they get unzipped?

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