I don’t usually have dreams worth sharing, but this morning I woke up after having the most fantastic one. I’m not sure where it took place, perhaps I was somewhere back at school, but wherever it was, I was a new arrival and had an office next to my friend Paul Jones. We were collaborating on something (how exciting that would be!), a protocol of some sort for connecting people to cloud-based services, and we were preparing a presentation for a conference.
I had gone next door to discuss a point with Paul. As he reached over to take a small touch-screen device from its pedestal and enter some notes, my gaze fell upon his desk, and I was amazed by what I saw.
The desk was L-shaped and had an intricately grained wooden surface with an orange hue of cherry or rosewood. There were no papers of any kind on the desk, and unlike my own, no large display screen or monitor of any kind. Instead, there were a number of peculiar items scattered about, which Paul had been manipulating in a thoughtful way. One set looked somewhat like a jig-saw puzzle, another consisted of brightly colored semi-translucent objects of varying shapes: some had the form of letters and others simply seemed to be polygons of different types.
As I took this in, it hit me: freed from the tyranny of the attention-commanding screen, Paul was able to pursue his research, letting his thoughts lead him wherever he wanted to go without the fetters and constraints imposed by the rule of the screen.
“You are truly free now!” I couldn’t help but exclaim. Paul didn’t answer. He just smiled.
Paul Jones is Director of ibiblio.org and teaches at the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the School of Information and Library Science and is currently running a #noemail experiment. For those of you who might be wondering, there were no smells in this dream.