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Anti-convergence: Why I don’t want my phone to do everything

Call me old-fashioned but I’m just not into convergence. Yes, it’s jolly handy that my phone can do all kinds of things as well as phoning people, but I still carry around a whole heap of other stuff too. Why? Because I’m not going to settle for a jack of all trades, master of none.

Take music, for instance. Even though I have an iPhone and two other phones on the go which both have fairly all right media players, I still use my iPod classic for music. Aside from the vague sentimental value my iPod has, there are loads of good reasons why – sometimes I want to keep one ear of music going when I’m on the phone, it’s really really annoying to have a beautiful swell of music interrupted by the honk of a new email and I certainly don’t want to compromise my already weak iPhone battery in case I get buried in some rubble and need my iPhone to keep me alive.

And what about cameras? It’s fair to say I own more of them than is entirely necessary for someone who takes, on average, one photo a week. But I still take one with me wherever I go; whether it’s a digital, disposable or faux-ironic retro-cool camera. Why? Impatience plays a part – I just want to switch on my camera, press shoot and get on with my life, not faff about unlocking the keys, opening the camera app, waiting for ten seconds while it loads and then taking my picture. But you can’t ignore the fact that cameras on most phones are not brilliant despite the millions of megapixels and clever image enhancement apps. Sure, I like that my phone has a camera and I do use it occasionally, but it’s no substitute for the real thing. No contest.

You can say what you like about e-Readers, reader apps for your phone and now the iPad, but I’m a book girl through-and-through. I’ll accept that e-ink is no harder on your eyes than words on a page, and yeah, you can carry eight million or so books around with you but what about the feel of the page? What about the emotional connection you get with the physical object? What about your name inside the cover, or the history of a second-hand book? What about tear stains in the sad sections and folding down corners of the page with that really great passage on? Ok, enough waxing lyrical about books, but answer me this: if all your books are on your phone, what will you keep on your shelves?

And sticking with the paper-based theme, there’s my diary – I don’t mean my pour-out-my-heart-and-soul-in-pink-gel-pen-while-listening-to-emo-diary, just my day-to-day planner. I have friends who can’t live without their phone diaries and for them it’s great that you can sync them with your online organiser in one big digital calendar love-fest. But I don’t think I’ll ever give up my physical diary. I can’t imagine ever scrolling back through iCal in years to come unless I’m under investigation for something, whereas I always look back through old diaries and day-planners just to reminisce. I like scribbling things out, jotting down thoughts, padding out the pages with inane doodles and cryptic notes like ‘BEETROOT’ written in big black letters and wondering what I was making for dinner that day. Something purple, by the sounds of it.

Of course there is some convergence I couldn’t live without – internet on my phone, for example. I use maps constantly, check Twitter obsessively and get a bit twitchy if I can’t access my emails. If I didn’t have a phone with me I’d never know the time – and I’d definitely have trouble getting up in the mornings if I relied solely on my body clock. But let’s not kid ourselves; a phone is a phone, a book is a book and a camera is a camera; and I’m going to let them do what they do best, even if it breaks my back.


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