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"Man with Briefcase"

[written February 9, 2002]

I've mentioned before part of how I dream my future will end up being like. As you might remember, I have a vision of sitting at a small table at some outdoor cafe in Rome, enjoying a refreshing beverage while trading stocks and making obscene amounts of money. All the information I would want about news or sports or stocks or entertainment or local cultural events would be available easily, and I could take a break from staring at my stocks to check out a hot Italian girl walking past, or to enjoy the monuments visible in the distance.

Well, I want to expand on that dream. I think I might've written about it before but it's called my "man with briefcase" vision. I want to be able to travel anywhere at any time to any place and only have to carry something about the size of a briefcase. I don't know how this would occur but I'd liken it to something like Johnny Mnemonic.

I am not into collecting things, really. Yes, I'm totally hooked on the Internet, television, music, books, magazines, newspapers, driving around, and so on, things that usually require the bulk of space needed when moving to a new place.

But what I want is some device like that Nokia phone with a full keypad on it. I want it to have the interface of a laptop, on a much smaller scale. A stencil or perhaps even a neural interface for moving around would be easy to add. It would have voice call capability and full Internet access. It would have the power to play games like a Game Boy Advance. You could watch television or listen to music on it, with a sleek Sony-like headphone set or earbuds. Hell, the damn thing could save text files, allow you to program and compile on it, have TiVo-like features for TV, and built-in software agents to seek out info for you. Of course there are vast libraries of books already online. And MP3s. And news sites. A powerful enough device with flexible software installation capability, and a robust battery (not that NiCad or alkaline shit) would be all that's needed along with souped up wireless and Internet information infrastructures.

A truly convergent device like this would probably make 90% of the stuff I currently own redundant. Hell, and any city with decent mass transit doesn't require a car. And if you need one, you can rent one.

It's obvious how far current consumer tech still has yet to come. Along with chip design, miniaturization, energy storage, and all the other goodies that come together to make the fancy devices we love to play with and buy. And the Internet's infrastructure has a long way to go, with no cohesiveness or interoperability. Perhaps at some point you could use anyone's small laptop/cellphone and access your account and assume full access just as you would on your own system, if online data storage were improved and standardized.

You of course wouldn't really need to carry much money because you'd be able to access a store's online merchant system and pay that way directly through your account. Or of course there'd be other ways for more security or convenience, like check-writing or credit cards. That isn't too hard to add with today's tech.

I guess all it would leave is your personal keepsakes and the big killer, clothes. Clothes take up a lot of space if you insist on retaining your wardrobe and having something appropriate for a wide range of situations. I haven't figured that one out yet, unless we come up with whizbang cool nanotech materializers. =P

I guess simplicity and versatility really appeal to me. Plus it's a long-held romantic notion of mankind's of the man who has no material wealth but possesses infinite amounts of wisdom and knowledge in his mind and spirit in his heart. Travelling a lot and learning constantly are key. And your "stuff" just burdens you and holds you down.

So this vision is primarily to do with materiality. I know how I want that part of my life to end up. What I have to figure out now is how I want to live my life spiritually and emotionally and socially. Those are much harder and much more rewarding. And I haven't a clue where I'm gonna go with that. =P

The "Man with Briefcase" vision is merely just a task in efficiency. But, like in Douglas Coupland's "Girlfriend in a Coma", where a girl goes into a coma for decades and wakes up to find her friends "more efficient" but also more worried, nervous, pressed for time, and ignorant of the important things, efficiency only takes you so far.

So here's to me in 6 to 11 years. A man with a briefcase, sitting at a cafe in Rome, enjoying a refreshing beverage, the world at his fingertips and, yet, singly enjoying his presence in one of the most beautiful and unique cities in the world.


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