Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Beyond "iPod Oblivion"

I see that one of my posts at the beginning of this month addressed the topic of "iPod oblivion," the ability of the iPod to "shut off reality" that has been proving to be hazardous to both motorists and pedestrians. According to Candace Lombardi's Half Baked blog for CNET, the distractions provided by ear buds may well be only part of the problem. Ms. Lombardi found an Associated Press report in the Chronicle documenting yet another story of a distracted motorist:

A California man whose car drifted into the opposing lane and caused a head-on collision may have been using his laptop at the time of the accident, according to reports.

I suppose that this will be greeted with the same kind of response that we find in reports of accidental shootings: Technology does not cause automobile collisions; people cause automobile collisions! While there may be some merit to this slogan, my guess is that there is a stronger motivating metanarrative behind this story that we may never know. Why should a "28-year-old computer tutor," who, by all rights, should know better, be trying to operate a laptop and a 1991 Honda Accord at the same time? What kind of pressure was pushing this guy to defy common sense so blatantly, or was he just as detached from reality as he would have been after having consumed a full bottle of cheap red wine? There is a nasty context that is impacting all of our lives; and the sooner we come to understand it, the more likely that we may be empowered to do something about it!

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