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John Roach: Embrace the digital world

Published On: Dec 20 2013 03:49:44 PM CST
John Roach's Column

By John Roach 

As these letters appear on the MacAir screen before me, it is Cyber Monday.

In an ever-soaring digital life, this weekend saw me purchase the new iPad Mini retina and swap out the old iPhone for a new one that, for some reason, reads my fingerprints.

Fortunately, the biz pays for it because it’s what we do.

But let’s be honest, it’s what everyone does if they choose to reside in the current century.

After the iPurchases, I uploaded five hundred family pictures to the iCloud, synced them across all devices so that, while iTunes Radio plays on the Apple TV, it presents a continuous slide show of historic family moments as a screen saver. Every other photo, taken at another time with older technology, is cause for sighs from the bride and laughter from kids.

And it all happens while Debussy serenades us.

To make things even more interesting, as I was juggling digital assets, Jeff Bezos announced to the world that he wants Amazon to deliver our One Click orders directly to our GPS coordinates five minutes after the order is placed.

By drone.

That idea made me giddy with Joy Of The New.

As you may perceive, it is my condition to be unapologetically, even obsessively, digital.

I reject the Luddites who view the future as something to be eyed with suspicion. There were folks just like them who thought the same thing about electricity, indoor plumbing and the wheel. And then the following week their kids got them an Android and next they were showing you ninety-six pictures of their cat in repose.

Let’s face it. What is the upside of resisting the future? Oh sure, you should be cautious with the new. For instance, we learned with electricity not to put forks in sockets. Fine.

But can we stop acting like reality isn’t happening? Jump in. The water’s fine.

I dug digital from the beginning, not for love of technology, but for love of music.

In 2003, I became smitten with the iPod. Since then I have imposed my musical tastes on a broad array of friends and enemies alike via a grand parade of iPod speaker systems.

Currently I prefer the Big Jambox while trying to light up the party with some P-Funk, Daft Punk, Sons of the Pioneers, Killers, Roy Orbison, Boyz II Men, Johnny Cash, Queen or the always-popular ’80s stylings of the Atlanta Rhythm Section. All an amateur DJ needs is some iTunes, Spotify or Pandora over Wi-Fi or 4G LTE to meet damn near every musical taste.

Remember, people, it is not a party until everyone bellows along to the song.

But all is not loud in the digital world. There is also the sublime.

Like walking Phil Seymour Dog on a crisp winter’s morn through the nearby glacial moraine, as the world is still abed, and the Mini Jambox in my coat pocket whispers to me, via Bluetooth from the Apple 5s, the iTunes Radio selections of my personalized “Ashokan Farewell” station.

It doesn’t get much digitally better than that.

And then there’s the cabin, where one can go easily off grid, but then, when relaxed and sated by silence, simply flip a switch and grab anything you could want from the broadband dish that stands proud astride the roof and above the treetops. The little plate calls to the world and beckons Badger games, Miles Davis, an Errol Morris documentary or the greatest books of the world and brings them seamlessly to my iPad. It allows me to perform the freaking miracle of Facetiming my children in their Chicago apartments to show them the snow falling on the lake they love.

I chat with friends old and new all around the world, with just the tap of fingers. We are alone, yet together.

On command. Instantly.

There is no human within a mile, yet if I choose, the world sits down in the chair beside me.

This is now our world. We are cyber beings. And it is just beginning.

Personally I cannot wait for the day when I am able to order one of Jeff Bezos’s drones to deliver me to the cabin. In five minutes.

But I think I will have to lose some weight.

Fortunately, there’s an app for that.

Madison-based television producer John Roach writes this column monthly. Reach him at johneroach@mac.com.

Read more of Roach's column here.

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