An impatient world

The New York Times gives us this morsel today, from writers Matt Richtel and Ashlee Vance:

There is nothing new about frustration with start-up times, which can be many minutes. But the agitation seems more intense than in the pre-Internet days. Back then, people felt less urgency to log on to their solitary, unconnected machines. Now the destination is the vast world of the Web, and the computer industry says the fast-boot systems cater to an information-addicted society that is agitated by even a moment of downtime.

The article equates the PC-makers’ rush to get boot times down with automakers’ attempts to narrow the time gap between 0 and 60 miles per hour.

I’m almost embarrassed by this labeling of our culture as speed obsessed, so impatient that even a few minutes (or seconds) of waiting for a computer to boot is an eternity of wasted time. I’m embarrassed, but I know it’s an accurate label. I have waited those endless seconds while my computer does something that is taking, no doubt, a reasonable amount of time. In those moments, I really feel like my computer has it out for me, that it wants to kill me with frustration.

But I’ve learned to use those times when nothing else is happening. I consciously switch my mind into “thinking” mode, instead of “computer” mode (where my mind resides far too often). I’ve learned that the moments in between activities can be very useful, and interesting insights are often found in those “liminal” spaces — to use a term from my undergrad days.


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