Appliance Versus Persona

January 13, 2011

I've worked with computers for years. At present there are five in my office (hooked up to a total of eight displays). I carry several with me nearly everywhere I go. I am a computer nerd.

However I notice a distinction between myself and the some of the nerds I work with: some of them treat their laptops and other devices with a casual indifference that I don't feel. Not that they are mistreating or misusing their equipment, just that they, from outward appearance, view their computers as tools whereas I view my computers as parts of my digital self, part of my digital persona.

I name my computers, I even name my iPods and USB drives. Not functional names but fun, (hopefully) inventive names. For a while I was on a Winne-ther-Pooh binge and consequently I have machines named Eeyore and Tigger, an iPod called Heffalump, and a USB key called Piglet. Tolkien's universe has influenced some names, like Palantir and Orthanc. My newest laptop is called BlackPerl and a twisted homage to the Pirate movie ("... more like guide lines ...").

These things are bits of me, contain bits of my thoughts, images, ideas, and creations. As a consequence I tend to approach them the same way I would like to be approached, with care and consideration. I think a part of me will be diminished should I ever get to the point where my collection of computers and devices is just the current interchangeable part and not some manifestation of myself.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.