The Technium

My Search for the Meaning of Tech

[Translations: Chinese, Portuguese]

For most of my life I owned very little. Until I was 30 I was a vagabond. I wandered remote parts of Asia in cheap sneakers and worn jeans. The cities I knew best brimmed in medieval richness; the lands were green in agricultural outlook. When I reached for something in those days it was almost surely made of wood, fiber or stone. I ate with my hands, trekked on foot through mountain valleys, and slept wherever. I carried very little money and even less stuff. My personal possessions totaled up to a sleeping bag and some cameras.

One year away from Asia, I bought an inexpensive bicycle, borrowed some panniers, and rode across the American continent, west to east. I abandoned all material things to arrive on the east coast owning nothing but the bicycle. The highlight of that trip was gliding through the tidy farmland of the Amish in eastern Pennsylvannia. I respect the Amish for their selective possessions. I felt my own life, unencumbered with fancy technology, was in parallel to theirs. I intended to keep technology in my life to a minimum.

A few years later I arrived in California, and at the age of 32, I finally got a car. I borrowed a friend’s computer (an early Apple II with modem) to automate my fledgling home business, and soon found myself immersed in a frontier of online life. I edited the first consumer publication to review PC software. Then I got involved in starting the first public online portal to the emerging internet. In 1992, I helped start up and edit Wired magazine – the official bullhorn of digital culture. Since then I’ve hung out on the cusp of technological adoption. My friends now are the folks inventing super computers, genetic pharmaceuticals, search engines, nanotechnology, fiber optic communications, and everything that is new. I fully embrace the transforming power of technology.

Yet our family of five still doesn’t have TV. I don’t have a pager, or PDA, or cam-phone. I don’t travel with a laptop, and I am often the last in my ‘hood to get the latest must-have gadget. I find a spiritual strength in keeping technology at arm’s length.

At the same time I run a daily website called Cool Tools where I review a broad range of highly selected consumer technology. A river of ingenious artifacts flows through my studio; a fair number never leave. Despite my detachment, I continue to deliberately position myself to keep technological options within reach.

These obvious contradictions have prompted me to investigate my own paradoxical relationship with technology. For the past year and a half I have been studying the history of technology, the arguments of technology’s critics, projections of its future, and the tiny bit of technic philosophy that has been written, all with the aim to answer a simple question: How should I think about new technology when it comes along?

It’s a question at the heart of many other questions that baffle us these days. I am not the only one perplexed about the true nature of the increasing presence of technology in our culture. The best way I know to think about things is to write about them, and so in order to force me to go beyond the obvious I am writing a book about what technology means.

As I write I will post here. The purpose of this site is to turn my posts into a conversation. I will be uploading my half-thoughts, notes, self-arguments, early drafts and responses to others’ postings as a way for me to figure out what I actually think.

So far in this 18-month journey I’ve changed my mind several times, and I expect to change my mind again as I gain new insights. But to be honest, I need to make my biases clear.

I am now in my 50s. I still travel a lot and I’ve seen yet more of the world’s mounting population and some of its remaining wildlands. I have visited many countries both rich and developing. I’ve read a lot of history – ancient, esoteric, economic, and recent. Based on what I have seen and read, I believe there is progress in the large scale of things. Secondly, I sense that overall, technology is a good thing. Thirdly and most importantly, I have a strong faith in God which underlies my personal perspective, and which undoubtedly will be evident in the framing of my questions.

Those are not the prejudices of most educated people these days, and so my challenge will be to back up my conclusions (when I have them!) with evidence and persuasive arguments.

I’m calling this site The Technium. It’s a word I’ve reluctantly coined to designate the greater sphere of technology – one that goes beyond hardware to include culture, law, social institutions, and intellectual creations of all types. In short, the Technium is anything that springs from the human mind. It includes hard technology, but much else of human creation as well. I see this extended face of technology as a whole system with its own dynamics.

On this site I aim to investigate the Technium. What does it want? Why do we embrace it? Is it possible to reject it? How does it relate to God, if at all? What kind of control do we really have on the pace and future path of the Technium itself?

I solicit responses from you in the comments or via email. I am particularly eager for unusual views and overlooked facts. I don’t care much for political correctness; I do care for accuracy and honesty (what people actually do rather than what they believe or say).

You can reach me at kk at kk dot org.

  • Nomaps

    I felt after Out of Control that you have the right curiosity but are perhaps asking the wrong questions.

    There is a deep unease about where we are heading as a human race or rather, a deep unease about how much we know about ourselves, a distrust, if you will, of the self.

    The answer is to ask again the basic questions and build up again from there. Why a universe, why life, why species, why humans, why civilization etc.

    When we finally arrive at asking why Technology? it will by then all be much clearer.

  • Kevin Kelly

    Waldo T. and Ben’gineer,

    Many thanks for your posts. I’ve been picked up my writing here again after a lull due to other writing assisgnments and the gravity of an increasingly popular Cool Tools site. I appreciate your encouragement. THANK YOU.

  • I always thought science/Technology/knowledge keeps God away. The more and better the technology becomes, more it occupies the sphere of one’s life. This complete reliance on technology to live, connect and survive, I believe, is often pulling people away from spiritual orientation and belief in God. This is very interesting that you are trying see connections of technology to God. To me, religion and God are mere concepts infused in our minds by our ancestors to keep us up right and well. To create, be good, someone is watching you kinda feeling. Looking forward to see how technology explores this thread of belief.

  • Shawn the R0ck

    hello KK,I was starting read the Out of Control(Chinese paper version and english electric version) last months.I was wondering how can you know these things in 1991.I was born in 1986 that was not as a coincidence like as Im typing words here.As far as I knew There’s only 4 personal computers in a local university back then(1986).The tech changed the ways of human life.There’s no iphone,android in 1986.Even Google doesnt existed out there.

    The process of co-evolution is still changing,faster then ever before.It will never stop until the organic community has been formed.The organgic comunity make all personal organic life together through some sort of common background which wired magazine and geek’s culture(hacker ethics) are the current ones.high speed of Tech growing will not be affected by our will.I believed you are right,the only thing we can do is to embrace the new technology and get to know the inside of structure by our very limited hacking.That’s why we need community and,wired.Thank Lord,Im wired in:-)

    Thank you~KK,you broght me many aha(I mean wondering stuffs) in past 3 months.We have a local open-seminar(small one,only few hackers came) discussed about your world view(I was not implied that in plantary of sci-fic stuff-_-) last Nov.

    May Lord’s hacking spirit guide you!

    • Thanks, Shawn the Rock. By 1991 I had been online for 10 years already, so I was personally experiencing what I was writing about. It was not theory!

  • lemel

    Would it be possible for a software intelligence to discover the nature of the hardware it is running on?

    Or would you be required to “seed” it with some direct knowledge of matter?

    And if it were truly intelligent and free, would it even accept your declaration from above in the absence of proof that could be demonstrated in its own realm?

  • Longish post on your wonderful project at my blog

  • john batki

    My passion is Kilimology, the study (and, yes, practice) of ancient weaving traditions, collecting and archiving old rugs, kelims, etc. as well as their images. Aye, and therein lies the (technological) rub.
    An old prayer rug is, in many respects, the very antithesis of “technology”. Or let’s just say: it is, as the oldest technology (Gr. “techne”=weaving) the quintessence of “Low Tech”.
    My specific dream-project is Kilimology Archive, an interactive image bank (actually image and text base) to record, and access in a variety of ways any number of authentic examples in the published literature and in unpublished collections.
    Here, I expect, Technology will have to enter to facilitate matters. For the hyperlink retrieval of “related examples” will, by its very nature, be a “digital thing”, far transcending the limited possibilities of collection/gallery installations or printed catalogs. Leafing through a volume of, say a hundred or two images cannot approach the possibilities encompassed by digital accessing of rug images and their details.
    I am thinking beyond taxonomic classifications or ethnographic attributions, two of the chief concerns of “rug studies” (beautifully represented in HALI magazine). What if digital archiving allows us to see these old weavings differently, allows us to “read” them in modes not so much verbal as musical? The answers to this question will emerge in the process of creating the archive.
    Artifacts impress with their material presence and museums, collections deal chiefly with that aspect. But a spiritual dimension may emerge through employing a digital tool to read, take apart and put back together, and “play” the musical strains inherent in the colors, motifs and designs of old weaves.
    This might amount to a “practical/empirical” sideshow alongside your ongoing TECHNIUM PROJECT…

    John Batki

  • oyun

    The answer is to ask again the basic questions and build up again from there. Why a universe, why life, why species, why humans, why civilization etc.

    When we finally arrive at asking why Technology? it will by then all be much clearer.

  • leon sun

    your work is the dream work for me too.
    I mean the scope and direction of your project and thoughts. I am just lack of the determination to do sth. similar here in China. I am from Beijing.

    I don’t understand why there is no such word
    “art” in your writing, I believe it is very much related, the technology and the art.

  • antonis


    Not a bad idea for a book, but how unfortunate choise of title…

    Would i be searching for the meaning of technology, my starting point would be the word itself. Then i would find out that it’s greek, derives from “tekhne” and “logos”, with “tekhne” meaning “art, skill, craft, method, system,” and “logos” meaning “word, speech, discourse,” also “reason”. Has been used to describe the “science of the mechanical and industrial arts(!!!)” since 1859 (!!!).

    So, why add the latin -ium to a greek word, to create a new word that sounds like a chemical element and is supposed to describe “the sphere of anything that springs from the human mind”?

    Technology -the word itself- IS the sphere of anything that springs out from the human mind. Technology IS a universe of thoughts and methods, so there can’t be a “sphere of a universe”.

    I think starting point for the meaning of anything should be the dictionary. Technology is such a meaningful and well-sounding word, please don’t abuse it!


    PS: useful links:

  • ao

    Technology is a branch of our I:s.
    I:s made up of language.
    Technology as language is just cheating our I:s.
    Our I:s reaching for eternally love, helath…
    that we never can achieve
    because we already have it.
    Meditating – loosing our I:s – language – technology…
    That is perhaps the way…
    Man is seven million years. Living in small groups – with some balance – seeing, touching. smelling each others.

    10 000 years ago we learnt to cultivate the earth – technology – and the balance was broken – we got hierarchical systems.

    Then in the end of 16th century Gallileo Gallilei sat in the cathedral of Pisa and took his pulse looking on the swinging lamps – then connecting time and space with a formula.

    1608 he had got the formula for sending canon balls to the place intended. Still we are on this path – having lost our balance between ourselves depending on formulas and their applications.

    Cheating others like PNAC – Project for a New American Century does. There were two planes – but three buildings september 11 2001- also World Trade Center number 7 was demolished. The ones who did it is not so difficult to figure out following the money.

    Now we are living in this myth elaborated of the philosopher Leo Strouss -> PNAC waiting on the RFID society – the electronic prison world – a Weired World.

    How to get a little balance back among six billion people? Perhaps everyone of us sitting down on our asses some minutes everyday trying to widening and loosing our I:s?!., not seeing language and technology – our I:s as the outmost – having found something – everyday sitting meditating – to balance our thinking and feeling with. Or perhaps you have some better technology?!.,

  • manuel mah

    Your comments about the place of technology in human life and your faith commitment prompt me to share some Biblical reflections. In the Genesis account, God creates a garden as the dwelling place of human beings. This is a natural environment that precedes the advent of human technology. And then moral collapse occurs and humanity is banished from the garden, and becomes agrarian, nomadic, and eventually urban. The city is a built environment, the product of human knowledge and technology. The city is a human invention, not a divine one. The cities in Genesis are portrayed in a negative light: they are places of human arrogance and corruption. It is therefore surprising to read the final chapter of the book of Revelation and find that the dwelling place of restored humanity (and God) is neither garden nor city but both: a garden reminiscent of Eden sits planted in the middle of a recreated city. The human built environment is not annihilated, but restored, and incorporates the divine environment of the garden. The city has transformed the garden and the garden has transformed the city. Human technology, it seems, will endure even as it is transformed; it need not be alien to one’s spiritual sensibilities. I find this story comforting as I work through my ambivalence towards technology.

  • Andrew Lehman

    I study the effects of neoteny and acceleration on human evolution and societal transformation. This was called heterochonic theory over 100 years ago. It is a biological evolutionary principle popularized for a time by Stephen Gould in his 1977 book, Ontogeny and Phylogeny.

    Heterochronic theory traces the effects of changes in the rate and timing of maturation. These effects can be profound. Gould and others estimated that the effects of neoteny or the prolongation of ancestor infant features into the adults of descendants (modern humans) have an enormous amount to do with how we became human.

    My own work explores these patterns as they influence the evolution of society. (See Reading your work I am stunned by the possible application of these same principles to the evolution of technology with possible predictable trajectories. In other words, the ancestor stages of technological development may be influencing the manifestation of new technologies, as brand new discoveries are incorporated at earlier and earlier stages of our societal ontogeny.

    Ontogeny may not only recapitulate phylogeny, but technology may recapitulate ontogeny.

    • @Andrew Leman said, ” the ancestor stages of technological development may be influencing the manifestation of new technologies, as brand new discoveries are incorporated at earlier and earlier stages of our societal ontogeny. Ontogeny may not only recapitulate phylogeny, but technology may recapitulate ontogeny.”

      Exactly. Much of the ‘evolutionary’ aspects of technology are probably developmental.

  • Kevin Kelly –

    I came to your blog directly via to here from your article in the August 2005 WIRED. We walk very much the same path, to judge by your writing so far. When you get your book to a point where you feel it might benefit from an extended edit by a technical editor, you might check with Randall Nichols, author of two recent Wireless Security books pub’d by McGrw-Hill, as to my unique approach to that line of endeavor.

    In the meantime, I was thoroughly moved by your WIRED piece, and immediately recommended to the movers and shahers of Senior Net that your article should be at the top of their list in the upcoming committee meeting on Seniors and the Net in Washington DC.

    I’m pushing 90 – age, that is. My genre is not noted for its grasp of today’s worldly technology and particularly youthful and creative thinking. I’m a wireless pioneer, as you can see at . That’s not today’s wireless, but its grandaddy, spark transmitters and crystal sets. Not many of my ilk have bridged the times from then until now, but I jumped in with both feet in the 80’s and have been a proponent of the internet from day One. Thus, your article more than whetted my appetite for your book-in-writing. If you have written other stuff I’ll find it as I pursue your name through Google and elsewhere. When a person with an open mind discovers another of the same specie, sparks should fly. Sparks was my shipboard callin’ name.

    So, do I have anyting to offer you as gold dust from a mother lode? Perhaps so. You mentioned your individual thoughts on God, and one of those replying to this blog opportunely mentioned “…unease as to where we are heading as a human race, the many why’s thereof. I’ll mention a few things, and you take the search from there, as what I have to say is directly related to everything you have said in your WIRED article and what I’ve seen to date of your personal bio.

    I discovered the Baha’i Faith during a two-year stay in Sydney/Brisbane 1942–45, the WW-II years. I’m a son of Iowa, citizen of California since 1936, so going 8,000 miles to discover something of far greater impact in the spiritual side of mankind, while not a record, was at least a considerable surprise to me. This, I discovered to my complete satisfaction after over a year of studied investigation, with implications far beyond any sectarian denomination of any of the Major Faiths. Google the word Baha’i and take it from there. You are not the kind to search superficially, so I will not burden this blog with detail. If you pursue it in spite of your work in progress on your book, you may well find it fits comfortably within your present understanding, while offering a new perspective unexpected, that some of it would very likely find its way into your book.

    Technology is taking us into a realm of world building that is too all-embracing of change as to prevent many from pursuing it at all. If you favor me with a reply at my e-mail address, I shall consider it a delight to make your acquaintance, and if I have any original thoughts along the way I’ll share them with you as you have with everyone on this web page.

    I, too, am writing another book (after about 6 general ones to date and some one or two thousand articles over the years}. You are 50, I am 87, age-wise. Can we bridge the all too familiar “age gap?” As we old wireless men would say, we’re on the same wavelength. I’ve keyed Morse over the airwaves, you’ve served the cause of personal computing, and will continue to do so, evidently. Your prose is a delight to read.

    –Walt (nicked from Waldo T.

  • Flowerpotman

    Technology is an expression of Human Culture. It must be immensely invigorating to be surfing so close to one of the edges of human endeavour and yet you deliberately choose not to jump in. I think it’s because you’ve either seen, or are aware of the other edges to our mutifacted cultural endeavours. I am now in my fifth decade and approaching my 50th, i also marvel how little material possession i actually needed in my younger decades and how much I had yet to discover. I’m all for being a consumer without being consumed. Here’s a toast to those of us who seek novelty without obsession – “Long may we carry on being First to the Ballroom, yet Last to Dance”.

  • pablo

    hello!, Im Pablo, from Uruguay, South America. (ever been down here? you should!)

    I found your proyect very interesting, and I encourage you to keep up with the effort.

    I was reading an article about youtube, secondlife, wikipedia, and that kind of communitary open proyects when I found a link to your work.

    In this article, the autor was trying to understand the succes of such open proyects, and how was it possible to outperform other similar proyects owned by huge companies.
    That led me to think about the porigins of human behaviour, about the man itself, and about how he has always dependen on otherss to solve its problems (of any kind).
    The man has always needed to “outnumber” its opponent in order to beat him, because nature has not blessed us with physical strenght, but yes with an undomitable wisdom and curiosity.

    i think this proyects, as yours in which you open to others some (any) kind of creation are the only ones with chances of succes.
    because they are the only proyects with COMMON INTERESTS. And common interest, GROUPAL ACHIEVEMENT, has always been our KEY to survive.

    collaboration, cooperatives, associations, this are the forms that can drive individuals (as parts of) to their objectives. But not individuals that move forward behind some lider. Individuals that are at the “line of fire” each one of them.
    Nature gives us millions of examples. Zebras, fish, animals in general move and work in collaborative ways.

    In that perspective, I think technology MUST be always at that distance you mention. Ate the reach of our hand. Just like humans 10.000 years ago had their stones at hand. And reach them when needed I think we must follow that path.

    I loved the opportunity of sharing this thoughts with you.

    Excuse me for my English. Is not my native language.

    Hugs to everyone participating in this proyect, Best Wishes from PABLO, from Uruguay, South America.

    Be back soon !

  • elzr

    Kevin, thanks for making your thinking public, it’s been very worthwhile and I hope I can contribute back.

    I’m a longtime reader of yours, half your age, a designer/programmer, a nomad of sorts. I share, very much, your believe in the reality of progress and your hope in technology. As a bright, I’m honestly just perplexed by your religiosity.

    Some years ago I wrote ( some definitions that perhaps might stray you somewhere interesting:

    (“Whimsical” to be (mostly) understood in the not so standard sense of “subject to our whims.)

    Reality: that which is not whimsical.
    Technology: that which makes Reality whimsical.

    Technologist: that who believes Reality can and should be whimsical.
    Hacker: a Technology maker.

    Body: that which is whimsical.
    Health: the body’s whimsicality.
    Culture: the exploration of Body.
    Art: Culture making.
    Artist: a Culture maker.

    Knowledge: Of Reality—of what else?
    Science: Knowledge making.
    Scientist: a Knowledge maker.

    Good: the creation or exploration of Body.
    Evil: the destruction of Body.

    Virtual Reality: whimsical Reality; Technology’s ultimate success.
    Religion: the belief that Reality is self-servingly whimsical.

  • Berend Schotanus

    Thank you for doing this. Both your method and your subject are inspiring.

    Although the book will be published soon I intend to read the blog and leave some of my thoughts as comments. I hope you appreciate and let me do so.

  • meg Jordan

    I am an artist/theologian and part owner of a business called macs@work in Huntsville, Ontario, CAnada. We sell Apple computers and everything related to them and also explore the meaning and implications of the digital life in our Digital Life Centre. I believe that your work is immensely important and I commend you for sharing your process online. A question I would pose to you is this: “What language and stories should we use with our grandchildren to explore the wonder of being human in these times? To what extent has the ever developing technium become an integral aspect of what it means to be human?”
    Keep up the good work an be blessed by it!
    Meg Jordan M.Div

  • Hi Kevin,
    I find my growing awe in the face of evidence of human imagination spiritual indeed. David Bohm’s treatment of the implicate order nudged us over the threshold of the material world. Much that we can understand about underlying relationships in the physical world can be better understood as we see the collective world building that modern tecnology both facilitates and represents.All theologies have sought to understand the ‘implicate order’. It is increasingly visible as we see ourselves party to the creation of a new and admittedly (with reference to what we have known before) bizarre reality.I too find however, immersion in the nitty gritty of everyday life in a very hands on manner (with minimal reliance upon technology)important. I attribute that to the need to find the appropriate tension between proactive physical engagement of the physical world and the quieter mental engagement of the potential (or imagined) world.Your work is inspiring.

  • Mark Rowden

    V interesting take on tech creep into the fabric of our lives.
    One of my views is that we all need some retro anchors. For example, old tech or no tech, in at least some areas of our existence. To live without tech is near impossible, and certainly relegates our productivity and social ‘speed’ – I’m currently living for a year in a remote area in France and in many respects it’s like stepping back 100 years. No central heating in -11°C today, food only in season, being acutely aware of the weather and the seasons. But I have a laptop, and hence I saw you blog, and hence this comment for you. Balance. I think balance in all things is the quest.

  • muhtar

    I always thought science/Technology/knowledge keeps God away. The more and better the technology becomes, more it occupies the sphere of one’s life. This complete reliance on technology to live, connect and survive, I believe, is often pulling people away from spiritual orientation and belief in God. This is very interesting that you are trying see connections of technology to God. To me, religion and God are mere concepts infused in our minds by our ancestors to keep us up right and well. To create, be good, someone is watching you kinda feeling. Looking forward to see how technology explores this thread of

  • Should the “18-month journey” be “18-year journey” i.e., 32 to 50 ! ?

  • jenninat0r

    Hi Kevin,

    I’d just like to echno the appreciative sentiments on the extensive and provoking communications/information studies writing you have here! I’m an artist-curator and student in my final undergraduate year of communications what you’re writing is immanent and relevant to the field now.
    I personally am interested in the heterogeneous potentials of new technologies, especially information/media excess and the politically mobilizing potentials of creating new media art.

    As a Chinese Canadian I was born in Ottawa, grew up in Hong Kong and experienced [very technological] culture shock after moving to suburban/subrural Canada for university. Having attended an Anglocentric international school in Hong Kong–a city ridden with screens and public transport with wait times as short as 3 minutes–I actually experienced a sense of technological and infrastructural regression… there was in fact a lack of informational overstimulation I had adapted to living with. Likewise, 80% of my visual culture class doesn’t own a TV, but we turn to just as mainstream forms (Youtube) on the internet for information and entertainment.

    Keep up the great work and look forward to seeing this published one day!

  • Does TECH do more for us or do less to us ?-who is master?

    TECH keeps us connected or keep us apart ? Depersonalized?

    technoolgy has capacity to bring out the best and worst in us- a blessing and a curse.

    From: Shanghai, China.

  • Vincent

    I was immensely cheered by your self-introduction here and the hint of the values which you hold dear. I look forward to seconding or challenging your more detailed observations.

  • Bernardus F Willems

    Very inspiring indeed.

    Like Leon from Beijing, I am in awe of what you have achieved and will probably achieve with this book. As for the title; it is just a title. If we have the luxury of dedicating several lines of data/code/information to the why’s or why-not’s of a name of a great concept or idea we are not seeing the bigger picture.
    I am also inspired by Walt’s response. Pushing 90 and pushing technology makes me more aware that I am “just an egg” as Michael Smith says in “Stranger in a strange land.” In the late 1980’s someone called me while working as a Technical Assistant at the Eindhoven University ofTechnology and asked me if I had hear of SURFNET. The girl that interviewed me over the phone went on to explain the advantages of sharing scientific opinions, data, and work and created enough of a curiosity spark to have me find out more. This was early 1988. June 17th I made acquaintance with a girl through the BITNAUT list. She was working as a summer Technical Assistant at Fordham University. The contact was not a smooth ride; INTERNET was just getting there; links went up and down from time to time; all was text-based and chat was not what chat is now. It did not take long for us to realize that there was more here between the ones and zeros and I flew to the States October 5th, 1988 and we married on October 25th. We still are married and have three children. We are the babies of technology, but technology has always been there. The bigger picture of the Technium is an interesting one and I wonder where it will lead us. Can we predict the short term and anticipate what the next big thing in the Technium will be? With enough brain power I am sure we can. Can we manipulate the long term as the Second Foundation tried to do? I am sure we can, but is there an organization that is willing to even try?
    Walt hit the nail on the head. When open-minded brains connect, sparks should fly. I am seeing the sparks on my end…
    So how do we connect (or is there a dash before humans) with the Technium? How can we guide research and development in the right direction? Or more importantly should we? All very interesting questions that I hope to see addressed in the Technium blog.

    Ben Willems
    a.k.a. Ben’gineer
    Ben dot Willems at FAA dot gov

  • You postings on Cool Tools lead me to think, again, of how one decides how to handle the daily onslaught of new technology. A lot of this is driven by Moore’s Law, but who is in control? Some are indeed “cool,” others not (personally I’d put Costco in the uncool category).

    I once read that Miles Davis, in his late-1960s phase, “…played the silences between the notes.” How did he do that? What is the difference between his not playing a note and my not playing a note?

    Maybe the coolest tool is the one that you can live without. But that is not the same as simply not owning or using advanced technology. It would be the ability to live a life improved and empowered by technology, yet also enlivened and empowered by an absence of technology, in just the right places.