TechWit - our love-hate relationship with technology


TechWit - the newspaper column

TechWit first appeared in 2002 in the Juneau Empire, published by Morris Communications.

Since then, it has been published online by Apple Computer, and appeared in numerous other venues. TechWit columns and quotes from TechWit are often used as handouts and discussion starters, bringing a satirical perspective to many of the social-technical issues that face us.

If you are interested in publishing TechWit, please contact the author. Generally, he is happy to allow you to include Techwit republications free of charge on your blogs and in your newsletters.

Links to and descriptions of all published TechWits appear below.

Digital Makeup Makes Everyone Look Attractive

August 2, 2006

One of my techno-geek friends stopped me in the airport, and, as he did the dance that only techno-geeks can do after seeing something techno-wonderful, told me he had seen the future of video conferencing. The picture was so clear, he told me, he could see the pores on the guy's skin he was talking to! As I stared at my friend's face, which, in his enthusiasm, he had brought within inches of my own, exposing not only his pores but his nose hair and a small scar that looked like a wilted banana, I couldn't help but think, "but I don't want to see the pores on anyone's skin. Isn't that why we created makeup?" Technology to the rescue. Digital makeup will make us look not only svelte, coiffed, and well-dressed, but wide awake and happy to be at work too. Read the entire column on the Juneau Empire site (you will need a login). Or download the PDF.


Sell Phone Madness

November 30, 2005

Looking for the right holiday gift for an enemy? Give him a cell phone. Or, should I say, sell phone. Because that's all the cell phone companies do is sell them. After all, there's no point in supporting them given that they have the life expectancy of an adolescent attention span. Do I sound bitter? Follow me into cell phone support hell, if you dare. Read the entire column.


Tune into Technology Blackout Day

May 4, 2005

May 20th is Technology Blackout Day. So, turn off your cell phones, unplug your video games and don't forget that if you want to get warm you'll have to sit around a campfire. After all, even your home heating system is computerized. Read the entire column.


My New Year's Resolution - To Quit Thinking

December 31, 2004

I admit I am a problem thinker, and it is causing me and my family great anguish and embarrassment. I tried to keep up the appearance of being a nonthinker but eventually my thinking became uncontrollable. I started saying things in public like, "You know, I've been thinking about whether the whole Iraq thing makes much sense ..." People would smile politely and move away from me as if I'd said the F word ("freedom") in church. Read the entire column.


Waiting for Religion 2.0

August 10, 2007

But there were powerful forces arrayed against my developing a pluralistic outlook as a young child. To begin with, the very average suburb in which I lived was as multicultural as the cast of “Leave it to Beaver.” But of all the forces at work against the development of a global perspective, religion was the most powerful. Like most people, my religious options were limited to those determined by geography and family. While my family encouraged me to learn about diverse spiritual viewpoints, local church officials did not. To them other religions were interesting in a National Geographic kind of way, but were viewed largely as contaminants to be avoided, a perspective that I have come to appreciate is very typical among the devoutly religious. Read the entire column on the Juneau Empire site.


A Tale of Christmas Future: You're nobody without a web cam and an audience.

December 24, 2004

Not having a Web cam is worse than not having tri-color holographic business cards. It's even worse than not having clean underwear on if you're in a car accident. Even Santa has a web cam - in fact he's got a sack load of them - because he knows his future is online not down a chimney. He just wants to get out of the present delivery business before some fringe animal rights group sues him for cruelty to reindeer. Read the entire column.


The Presidential Debutts

October 11, 2004

A home version of the Presidential Debate Game is available. It allows us to sit on a whoopy cusion-like device that is plugged into the Internet and tell the candidates how we feel based on our GBR (galvanic butt response). We literally get to use our butts to tell the candidates what to do. It's what they're doing to us, so it only seems fair. Read the entire column.


The Pizza Lady Knows Too Much

August 31, 2004

Imagine only being allowed to order a pizza or a bungee jumping harness if your health insurance company says its okay. Imagine every time a supermarket checker drags your food across the scanner, the information is sent directly to your health insurer so it can monitor your eating habits. It's all just around the corner. Read the entire column.


Trading Classrooms: Reality TV Comes to Education

July 12, 2004

Trading places, trading parents, trading politicians - even trading classrooms. The irony is that the most honest thing on television is professional wrestling because everyone accepts that it's fake, just like the presidential debates. Read the entire column.


Cell Phones and the Plane Truth

May 6, 2004

Not only did I leave my cell phone on while I was on an airplane, but I also left my tray table down and my seat all the way back, just to see what would happen when we landed. Read the entire column.


C-Span Makes People Boring

April 16, 2004

Apparently, advertisers (who, if you haven't heard, control the world) think we like fast action TV with so many camera angle changes that we need motion sickness medication. They spent billions proving that we would rather watch something that moves than stare at something that doesn't move (like a large rock). Read the entire column.


Time to Go Dig-it-all

March 12, 2004

I like the word "digital." It's just plain fun to say and so much easier on the lips than "industrial." It sounds like a new kind of pill that does a whole bunch of things at once. Imagine combining Viagra, Rolaids, aspirin and vitamin C into sort of an Amway of self-help pills. The product motto could be something like "Take two Digitals and stand back!" Read the entire column.


The Great Cycle of Life's Stuff

December 9, 2004

I came of age during the 1960s, when the goal in life was to find yourself. Forty years later, the Digital Age has made that possible. Thanks to Global Positioning System technology I can just press a button and know where I am at all times. That's why I am recommending the location device as this year's ultimate thoughtful Christmas gift. Read the entire column.


Teachies are from Venus, Techies are from Mars

August 25, 2004

Women don't know what to do with the too many feelings they have, while men wouldn't know what to do with feelings if they had them. Just like teachies (those who use computers) and techies (those who fix them). Read the entire column.


Seein' Ain't Believin'

June 30, 2003

Before computers came along there were people who could use razors and air brushing to create a realistic picture of a pregnant, two-headed Elvis talking to aliens. This took real talent. But these days anyone can do this stuff, thanks to computers. Read the entire column.


Spam I Am

May 19, 2003

Today was a seven Viagra day. Not the pill, the spam mail. How to fight back? Use counter spam. Whenever I get a spam I send one back that says, "I have pictures of that strange thing you did at the party and I'm not afraid to use them." Read the entire column.


There's Always a Catch

April 20, 2003

What happens when you give a bad guitar player a bigger amplifier? Ouch. Technology is great at exposing how little talent we have. Read the entire column.


Airport Security Should Add Consumer-Friendly Features

March 27, 2003

The problem with airport security is that it's all stick and no carrot. How about giving a cookie to everyone who passes through security without sounding the alarm? Read the entire column.


Enter into Dante's Inferno, Version 2.0

March 20, 2003

Rumor has it that there's a new place in hell just for technology developers who make things that don't quite work. They get to spend an eternity using gadgets and gizmos that malfunction just enough to make them crazy. Read the entire column.


Some Gadgets for Geezers to Consider

January 23, 2003

As a senior citizen, the heart and soul of my technology arsenal will be "Where's Grandpa?" an affectionate term given to a walker hooked to a satellite tracking system. Loved ones will be able to track me wherever I am, and apply mild shocks to the handlebars should I wander into a bar before noon. Read the entire column.


E-phipanies on the Computer

January 5, 2003

I once stood behind two people emailing each other, saying things they would never turn and say aloud. They were living parallel lives online and off and didn't want them to intersect. They were both at the same Disney Land of the mind and didn't want to leave. Mostly, they spoke of turgid peas. Read the entire column.


Big Brother in a Red Suit

December 22, 2002

The security of Santa's database was breached recently by a cyber intruder named Bad Boy Toy. Now no one knows for sure who's naughty and who's nice. Civil rights groups have never liked Santa's social profiling. The Feds want law enforcement agencies to have access to it for reasons of national security. Read the entire column.


Chad Free Voting

December 1, 2002

Now that the 2002 elections have passed without major mechanical failure, we can return to worrying about the fact that the leader of the free world was elected in 2000 by faulty technology. Not a problem - new voting technology is on its way. Thanks to the Touch Screen Onsite Voter User Technology (acronym =TSOVUT, pronounced "SO WHAT"), the will of the people will once again be heard. Read the entire column.


Softwear Planning and the Mall

November 24, 2002

Do you know that look of frenzied panic the average teenager gets when she's one step out of fashion and needs to go to the mall NOW to do some serious power-shopping before she's reported to her peer group for being hideously uncool? That's how most people experience technology. Read the entire column.


That's the Truth

November 3, 2002

Imagine a machine that understands us so well, it knows what you really meant to say. You say, "I want a raise." It hears, "My parents never let me have a dog." Read the entire column.


Are Computers Helping Our Kids Learn?

October 6, 2002

In the straight talkin' words of G.W. Bush, "Is our children learning?" Good Question. Is they? Read the entire column.


What to Do When Your Computer Works

September 22, 2002

Suppose everything in your high tech office actually worked the way it was supposed to? Wouldn't you be just a little bit suspicious? It happened once and it was all too much for people to take. Government officials were bombarded with calls from irate citizens demanding to know what was going on... Read the entire column.


Beware Eternal Darnation

September 9, 2002

Heck is for people who believe in gosh... That's how conservative groups were forced to re-word their evangelical enthusiasm online to escape cyber censors patrolling the Internet for offensive material. The irony is that censorship was their idea in the first place. Poetic justice, I believe it's called. Read the entire column.


The Effects of Second-hand Spoke

August 28, 2002

Did you know that listening to other people's phone conversations causes itchy scalp and emotional stress? Did you know that 1/4 of all cell phone conversations are with Elvis and dead pets? Read the entire column.


Hiking the Great Indoors

August 4, 2002

Being outside is over-rated. I'd rather hike on my Stairmaster next to an open window and watch the Nature Channel; there are fewer bugs. Read the entire column.


Martha, Distance Ed and a Captive Audience

July 21, 2002

The government is going to use celebrity inmates to teach other prisoners over the Internet. The first up to the electronic podium will be none other than the queen of spruce-and-moose and cultured kitsch: Martha Stewart. Ken Lay and Dick Cheney are soon to follow. Read the entire column.


Digital Dieting is NOFUNS

July 9, 2002

What happens when your refrigerator can spy on your eating habits, talk to your toilet and call your doctor? Darn machines. They talk behind our backs all the time. They're worse than relatives! Read the entire column.


Spell Czech King for Miss Takes

June 16, 2002

Be holed! Wear wood wee bee without the my tea spell checker? God only nose. Any weigh... Read the entire column.


How May I (Digitally) Assist You?

April 28, 2002

When video conferencing really takes off, we'll all resent having to get dressed up just to stare at a computer screen. Enter "video filters." Guys will love the shaving filter. Women will like the jewelry and makeup filter. Everyone will love the "look-interested-no matter-how-boring-the-conversation-is" filter... Read the entire column.


The Human G-gnome Project

March 17, 2002

Is it Gee, Nome? Or G-gnome? Scientists are finding genes supposedly related to the darker side of the soul, things like excessive bargain shopping and the inability to color-coordinate your wardrobe. Read the entire column.


Three Crazy Ideas for Alaska's Technology Future

March 6, 2003

It's a fine line between being a visionary and a village idiot. Which am I? More importantly which are you? We need to wire Alaska, convert small communities to digital economies and add school technology to the community infrastructure along with water, sewage, and street maintenance. Read the entire column.