This was initially written for the SHiFT blog. Afraid that it would get lost in the web, I am republishing it today.
He sat down on the concrete facing the sun, somewhat cloudy and cut in half by the sea, placing the phone by his side. No more work. This is their time.
She walked out of the house holding a cup of tea and wearing sandals because after all the alarm clock showed the weather would be nice during the morning.
They both work a lot and have full schedules, but this is their time. This is the time when they sit and talk to each other, share their concerns and what makes them happy. This is the time when they shut down the world around them and truly connect.
In a world where work is demanding and where bells and whistles go ding every now and then, they realize the importance of logging off once in a while and enjoying the simple things life has to offer. The sunset and the sunrise, a nice meal and an amazing view, an artist playing on the street. Sure, they do snap a photo every other moment, but only because they feel the need to share it with one another or with a closer friend.
— What are you going to do today?
They talk about work and conference calls with people from the other side of the globe. She talks about how she loved the flowers he had sent the other day. Lilies.
— It’s funny how you always figure out a way to break my routine in the most beautiful way.
— You know it is important to me. And like I always said, when something is important you find a way.
He doesn’t know that she bought a new gadget for him, a picture frame that connects to the web and shows pictures that she sends him.
When they spend more than a few days without “their time” he always goes back to a digital photo album in his phone, pictures he took around the time they met, pictures of her and doodles he kept. There’s a post it note safely stored in a notebook, and he keeps the picture at hand for some unknown reason.
They met when they were working together on an event. Well, not really together. They stood in the same room once and everything else were long exchanges of emails, online conversations, documents worked on online. They found themselves commenting on the same blogs, sharing the same love for music, having the same tenacity for life. It’s strange, but personal values and emotions do travel in a world of Zeros and Ones.
— The other day I found an old document, something you sent me.
— What ?
— A silly story that you wrote to make me feel better, remember?
We are building a digital world that connects more and more with our daily lives. Even digital artifacts like an old document can now hold an immense personal value. And when we can replace our house keys with a mobile phone or a biometric device, we are in fact connecting that house, that home, to our own physical characteristics. Every day we find ways to connect information to more and more aspects of work, citizenship, and relationships.
— I got a message the other day from city hall. My proposal to build a playground in the neighborhood was accepted.
— That’s great!
— There’s even a 3D draft. You have to take a look and tell me what you think.
Technology is also getting easier to use everyday and it is amazing the sort of things that right-brain and left-brain people come up with. We build new instruments, share music across the globe, play it live from 8 different locations and think it is normal. It is not. It is amazing! It is marvelous and it is something with the potential to revolutionize the world in a couple of heartbeats without us ever realizing it.
— The sky looks amazing today. See?
They are standing on opposite sides of the planet, looking at the horizon. When he sees the sunset, she sees the sunrise. He misses her everyday and once in a while finds some crazy idea to make her smile. He sent her flowers the other day, after a few phone calls and a wire transfer, card and everything. The florist was kind enough to print out the message he sent from his tablet as if he had written it himself. This isn’t enough, they still talk every chance they get.
Whenever I think about technology it is never because of the latest gadget and the latest feature, it is always about how it can let me connect to others. The goal of technology should be to improve our quality of life, physical and psychological, as an individual and as a group. It should also allow us to work and collaborate better and with greater ease. I feel the best technology tends to be the one that bridges both the analytical and the creative side, our left and right brain.
They say goodbye and close the call. This was their time and it is precious to them, and it is more than a video call, it was a shared moment, and moments can be invaluable.
Special thank you to Pedro Figueiredo for the use of the photo.