Telecommunications

Phoneography Challenge: My Neighborhood — Roxbury in Boston

I carry a small point and shoot with me all the time and most of my pictures end up being taken with this camera — the Canon PowerShot S100 — rather than my larger, more complicated and expensive system camera. I guess it’s ironic. My little Canon cost less than a single lens in the larger system. It weighs almost nothing and takes up no more room than a cell phone.

We lived in Roxbury for more than a decade, only leaving when the construction of The Big Dig made living there untenable. I still think of it as home, along with the entire city of Boston. Between Roxbury, Beacon Hill, and Charles River Park, we lived in Boston neighborhoods for a very long time and I always enjoy going back again whenever we have an excuse. These were all taken a few weeks ago when we returned to the old neighborhood for a memorial  event for an old friend who recently passed away. The neighborhood is looking better than it did when we lived there. It’s one of those neighborhoods that is improving. I would stop short of calling it gentrifying. I don’t think the folks who live there want it gentrified. They don’t consider themselves gentry and neither do we.

This is a bit of Roxbury. It was, once upon a time, a city in its own right, but years ago it was absorbed and became a neighborhood within greater Boston. It is almost entirely Black and when I lived there, I was often the only white face in the crowd. Despite that, it was by far the friendliest neighborhood in which I’ve ever lived. We had great neighbors, wonderful block parties, and a sense of community we have never had anywhere else. People in general don’t understand how wonderful these ethnic neighborhoods  can be, how warm and supportive the community is when they consider you one of their own. I still miss it, though I love the country. Each place has its own charms, but Roxbury was a wonderful — and eye-opening — experience.

I do not shoot with my cell phone.  I cannot afford the data package that it would make it practical to use mobile apps for anything other than emergencies and our cell phones are for emergency use. Life is not always a matter of preference. More often than not, you don’t get to decide how you will live. Life hands itself to you and it’s your job to figure out how to make it work.

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I use a smartphone to make phone calls … I am obsolete.

My husband and I have Blackberry Smartphones. These days, I have the Torch (it was on sale), but Garry still has the Curve. He uses it for email, to track appointments, and to make phone calls. The reason we both wound up with Blackberries and not iPhones was simple: iPhones have pathetic voice quality for making phone calls. So do most smartphones. Blackberry is the only one that seems to care whether or not you can actually hear the voice on the other end.

No one, apparently, makes phone calls anymore, so phone manufacturers aren’t interested in telephone voice quality. Everyone is obsessed by apps. They want to know what apps they can use. They text, play games, take pictures …. but they don’t use the phone as a phone.

In this household, the only thing for which we use our telephones is to communicate and keep our schedules. That’s it. I lack the pointy little thumbs that make texting convenient for younger people. It’s a genetic adaptation I don’t have. My thumbs do thumb-centric things like grasping tools: they are not good for typing except touch typing where they are fine for whacking at the space bar.

Why would I want to do all that stuff on my phone when I have a desktop, a big laptop, a net book, and a tablet? If I want to take pictures, I have two Olympus PEN camera bodies plus 4 high-quality lenses, as well as a small superzoom point & shoot Canon that I keep as backup in my purse. My telephone is good for three things: making and receiving phone calls, synchronizing with Outlook‘s calendar (so Garry and I know who’s going to which doctor and when) and email. He uses it for email a lot more than I do. I prefer a full-size keyboard.

I use a camera for taking pictures and a computer for most everything else. I know that my Torch has a ton of capabilities I never use and I don’t care. I don’t want to use them. Twice I have used my phone to take a picture because it was the only thing available. Otherwise, I like cameras for photography, computers for computing, GPS units for navigation, and telephones for talking to people on ….tada … the telephone.

Unless you are on the road all the time without access to WIFI, what possible advantage do you get by running your world from this tiny device? Why do you even want to? Is it the only mobile device available to you? You mean you don’t have a laptop, netbook, or tablet?

I genuinely don’t understand why anyone feels a pressing need to use a small inconvenient device to do things that are so much easier to do on a bigger device … which they probably already own.

How well do I understand my phone? Enough to do what I need to do. It has good audio for telephone calls! It’s a telephone, you know?

One day, people will discover that they are doing everything the hard way. This is likely to occur when the younger generation starts to hit their late 30s and 40s and discovers they can’t see tiny little objects without special glasses. It happens to everyone and nothing you do will prevent it.

At that point, like a thunderbolt from Zeus himself, an entire generation will realize that it’s a whole lot easier to type on a keyboard, edit graphics and format text on a monitor large enough to see more than a few words at a time and bright enough to tell whether or not the photograph is in focus (what a concept!). They will be shocked by the discovery, thrilled to realize they no longer need to squint at a tiny screen when they could see the whole thing on a big bright high-definition monitor! It will be an international epiphany of epic proportions!

Not only that, but maybe people will remember how nice it is to hear the voice of a loved one, not just see a text or email. We might even rediscover (be still my heart) intimacy. You never know. Human relationships may come back into fashion!

I’m already there.

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