Saturday, December 8, 2018

Sherlocking the phone

One of the first memories I have of BBC's incarnation of Sherlock Holmes is his use of a smartphone. I remember at the time thinking "Text messages are telegrams! We finally have telegrams back, and Sherlock Holmes can exist in the modern day! Brilliant!"

Yet even at that, an older Sherlockian fully coming to grips with this thing in our pockets is not always a quick and easy path. Many among us still think it's a major social crime to look at one's phone during any human interaction. The Baker Street Irregulars still have an edict against phones at their annual dinners. (Their leader, of course, being a happily self-proclaimed Luddite for many a year.) And the books. How can we ever replace the books?

Well, this has been the week for my phone and I.

Sure, Twitter, photos, Pokemon Go, WhatsApp . . . we all have found apps that draw us in for daily use. But there are some leaps that need to be made on a personal level. Like how we feel about looking something up on Google during a conversation . . . I mean, with every answer in the world at our fingertips, why waste time puzzling over it and hold up anything else? Rude? No -- ruder to waste someone else's time. We all know how rude some folks tend to think Sherlock Holmes can be, but he sure seems like an efficient and sensible guy to me.

A few night's ago during an informal class, I whipped out my phone and started looking up concepts the speaker was hastily cramming into his talk . . . and suddenly what I was getting out of the lecture tripled in size. Rude to be looking at my phone during the lecture? Maybe to a viewer who didn't understand what I was doing, or an ego that demands all eyes on them. But the speaker had the self-confidence and insights to know that I was still paying attention, had no inner fears that needed to be calmed by my constant gaze, and later enjoyed the questions that I brought up as a result of my multi-task learning experience.

And then there's been the fanfic reading thing. Do you know where most fanfic doesn't exist? In books. Do you know what you can't carry around with you while you brush your teeth? A laptop or desktop computer. I've tried reading books on my phone before, but find my lifelong habits still have me going to bound paper books for my leisure reading. Trying to read a massive amount of fan fiction, however, has driven me to smartphone-as-a-book so I'm finally starting to make that evolution, one which many a younger Sherlockian has come to the party with that skill already in hand.

With a major purge of Tumblr going on this month, there is a definite awareness of the fragility of electronic fiction, art, and other media. Print backups are good. But carrying a library in your pocket? Letting that technology make us smarter, better-read, and more aware of the world around us? (Yes, I'll fight you on that last one -- name one person who actually fell into a ditch playing Pokemon Go.) There are some risks worth taking.

Sherlock Holmes was not a guy who was who he was because he stayed in his comfort zone or worried overmuch about public opinion. He pushed into using every new thing, tech, info, etc. that the world had to offer to further his cause. And as I'm definitely not Sherlock Holmes, these things may take me a little bit longer to get to, but I'm working on it.

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