This morning I listened to my friend and colleague Aimée Morrison talk intelligently on CBC radio’s “The Current” about what the recent three-day outage of BlackBerry services means to us as people. What does the response tells us about how these devices have influenced, even shaped our lives? That was basically the question she was asked to address. And to answer it Professor Morrison spoke as a Humanist—not as a media geek (although she is digiwonk), not as a tech geek, not as a business person, but as an English professor. And how interesting it was to hear that difference. Where others used the language of technology and economics (as well as outrage and bafflement) Professor Morrison used anecdote, analogy, and metaphor.
She compared the experience to the electricity blackout in Toronto and other parts of Ontario a few years ago: both shocked us into realizing how much we take these services for granted. But whereas in the blackout people sat on the porches, with the BlackBerry breakdown of service it is as if someone has taken your whole house and you are sitting on the curb waiting for it to come back but feeling really anxious that it might not come back. And then you start to not like your house and you want to get rid of it (okay, I made that segue up), so you sell it and buy an iPhone or other device. The loss of BlackBerry service is experienced much like a relationship breakup. People feel betrayed, let down—hurt.
You can hear the whole interview here.
Yay Professor Morrison! And yay to CBC for contacting an English professor.
I confess: I was listening to the broadcast on my iHome while facebooking, emailing, reading the twitter feed, reading the Globe and Mail and playing Scrabble all on my iPad. My condolences to RIM, a company that is very important to our community.