The Way the Trees Are: Cabin #1


Five years from now, when the loons start to sing and the weather heats up,  we’ll want to read a real book or 2 up in Cabin #1, at the end of the path, deep in the woods where solitude reigns and cellphones don’t work. We will take  backroads up to the North Country,  avoiding EZPass scanners on I95, shutting off or leaving home any GPS enabled clothing, accessories like glasses, jewelry, or other devices. We’ll stop at non-chain eateries along the way, to avoid security cameras and ubiquitous computing opportunities at all the hot spots along the route, where what used to be furniture (tabletops, backs of seat cushions, menus, bathroom wall fixtures) now take the place of the devices we tote around today — PDAs and cellphones. Your retina scan, your thumb print, will let you log in from virtually anywhere (except Cabin #1!) . Even your clothing will be “hot!” Gone will be the days of toting around a plastic rectangle, keeping it charged, thumbing messages into or buying little custom color covers to protect it.  XML will rule; text will flow freely. You will be able to access your online avatar(s)  (you may assume multiple identities!) from anywhere, without needing to remember usernames and pwds because your retina/fingerprint/dna “me-suite” will take care of that customer ID you, and you will be able to get news, content, messages, pix, tunes, books  — hey, it’s all one! — from anywhere at any time. Take off your T-shirt, shake it to stiffen up the interface, and bingo, you’ve got a screen to stare at and live in, no matter where you are. When devices are gone, no longer will you have to wrestle with these costly “plans” from for-profit telcos to maintain your online presence, getting locked into years-long licenses of paying exorbitant fees for insubstantial digital “products” like # of text messages.  You will be required by the government to be online all the time, and will get fined and possibly jailed  if you are not online. Universal health care will mean that your biometrics will need to get uploaded regularly, or you will not be covered if you need medical attention.

So this trip to Cabin #1 for the purposes of reading a paper book, the old kind of reading where the type is sunk into the beautiful cotton paper of the page,  may be kind of radical act, kind of like the end of “Fahrenheit 451,” where the book lovers amble among the trees reciting the book they each memorized, after all the books have been destroyed. But remember, if you can get there, and avoid all the satellite- and tower- enabled scanners and ubiquitous readers along the way, there will be a shelf of good books, some clean water to drink, a rocking chair, and an unlimited vista of night stars waiting for you!