Blog Post

Off the Grid and Now GoGo in the Air


After spending four days in a self-created "writer's retreat," off the grid, I am now blogging from high above Bryce Canyon, on GoGo courtesy of American Airlines.  Too bad the seats aren't wide enough to accommodate the in-air typist's elbow room!


It was in my interview with the ever-wise Linda Stone that I learned most about the importance of being off the grid sometimes.  Linda coined the wise term "continuous partial attention" for our era of always having one eye on one open screen, another eye on another, the chat function at the ready, the iPhone ready to ring . . . and the wise Third Eye of insight and enlightmentment numbed into distraction.    She is also interested now in "email apnea" (does anyone coin better terms for our digital era?), the way we stop breathing when we concentrate on keyboards, especially tiny ones.   Breathe!  she admonishes.  Breathe deeply!  

Linda talked about how, soon enough, the fad would be for "wireless-less" retreats, off the grid, and, after my week of conversations with digital era visionaries in San Francisco, I went searching for that wireless-less retreat.  And I found it.


Not far from Silicon Valley, up north of Mill Valley (home of Howard Rheingold), there's Bodega Bay and environs where one is constantly promised "no access."   There were whole towns up there without cell phone towers in site, not even the funny fake ones looming above the redwoods.  It was all silent except for crashing waves and, one afternoon, a Fabulosa women's music festival in Guerneyville.  No Twitter.  No Google.  No iPhone.  Just what I needed for a follow-up to taking in all those ideas, a few days unconnected to go inward, imaginative, to write about all of it.  (Readers of the Cat in the Stack blog know that I spent a year, before I began writing my The Rewired Brain, just thinking, "Thinking on Leave," traveling mind-paths of ideas, reading everything I could get my hands on, and then taking long, long walks, by myself or with my friend Priscilla, and wandering physical as well as mental paths without a map.  Or a GPS system.)


So now, flying home, is phase 3 of this week of embarking on Part Two of The Rewired Brain.   It's my first ever time connected to the Internet in the air.  American Airlines has a great new service called GoGo and, it works!  I was able to update my Facebook status from high above Yosemite, post this blog 30,000 feet above Bryce, and, if it weren't for the scant elbow room, I'd be delighted to be connected in the peculiar netherworld of airtravel where psychic diisconnection among hundreds packed into the flying sardine can is the order of the day. 


These are the metaphors of our era, the movings in and out of connection and disconnection, attention and distraction, proximity and distance.   I like the movement in . . . and out again.   Above the clouds and flying.





Special thanks to Flickr community member Perrygirl for sharing this image; click on it and you will find her full photo fed and full documentation.







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