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MsGneiss
11-17-2010, 03:53 AM
I was thinking that a lot of my favorite works of fiction would not be possible in our modern technological world. For example, Gogol's "Inspector General" just could not happen in a world of cell phones and Wikipedia. I suppose some genres have the wonderful "technology doesn't work around magic" plot device, but generally, I think that having a culture of instant communications, where any bit of information can be easily looked up, makes a lot of the classic plots virtually impossible. What do you all think? What are some books you love that just wouldn't work in modern times?

jaksen
11-17-2010, 03:57 AM
Ummm batteries die or you're in a literal 'dead zone' and then you can't call for help or look up the answers on Wikipedia. Or the bad guy ditches your phone in a ditch. Or you sent so many text msgs your service got cancelled because you owe $10,000 on last month's bill. Or the truck that's been tailing you ran over your cell phone or iPad as you dropped it fleeing the bad guys in it. (Poor sentence construction, that.)

Perhaps I'm not answering the question you are asking. :D

Jamesaritchie
11-17-2010, 03:59 AM
There's a way to make any plot work.

MsGneiss
11-17-2010, 04:14 AM
There's a way to make any plot work.

Yea, but many times it feels forced and comes out convoluted. And, I do see what you mean... it comes up in contemporary novels all the time, but I don't like it when there are whole paragraphs devoted to explaining why the protagonist can't do the obvious thing, which is use the telephone.

SPMiller
11-17-2010, 04:27 AM
A writer should never have to explain why the protagonist can't do the obvious thing. The narrative should have already provided all relevant information. If not, the editor should have caught it.

Of course, both writers and editors make mistakes. The red flag is "Bogus Alternatives" as defined in the Turkey City Lexicon.

adarkfox
11-17-2010, 05:49 AM
You can always go back in time - the last Nicholas Sparks book I wrote was set in the '80s so no cell phones, no email.... refreshing.

Jack Parker
11-17-2010, 08:41 AM
After indoor plumbing was invented, all technology could have ceased as far as I'm concerned. I've never been a fan of it. I have a computer and a cell phone. (And I only have the cell phone because it's cheaper than a land line.) No TV, stereo/radio, microwave, etc., Heck, I didn't even have an e-mail address until I found Absolute Write and created one so I could join.

All of these technological gadgets make writing a little more challenging for me. But, I do like challenges, so, there you go.

Phaeal
11-17-2010, 06:20 PM
Heh, I had to rewrite my last book because while my male teenage protag was the sort to leave his cell phone on the charger, his female BFF had hers permanently attached. It was easy to get him into a situation where he didn't have his cell, but when she came to rescue him, there was no way she'd have left hers behind. So, what the hell, I just had to arrange things so that the help she called in didn't get there too soon.

Cell phones are a big pain to plotting, for sure. They're sort of a deus (or at least 911) ex machina beacon. ;)

jaksen
11-17-2010, 06:38 PM
Heh, I had to rewrite my last book because while my male teenage protag was the sort to leave his cell phone on the charger, his female BFF had hers permanently attached. It was easy to get him into a situation where he didn't have his cell, but when she came to rescue him, there was no way she'd have left hers behind. So, what the hell, I just had to arrange things so that the help she called in didn't get there too soon.

Cell phones are a big pain to plotting, for sure. They're sort of a deus (or at least 911) ex machina beacon. ;)

In many parts of the country (US) there are major DEAD ZONES. (Thanks AT&T and all you ppl with iPhones using and dling a dozen apps a day!) I live in a densely-populated area outside of Boston MA. How many times a day does my cell phone NOT work? Too many. Go out to Cape Cod, it's even worse.

Until the cell phone providers get enough resources to service all these zillions of calls made a day, 'dead zone' works and it's not forced. (We also get a message which says: Service Area Busy, or similar.) I sometimes have to walk up the road (on Cape Cod) to find a place where I can get a signal, and I've passed other people doing the same. One woman told me, go out to the end of the jetty, reception's great there. :D

And kids do forget to charge their phones. In my last year of teaching, how many times did I hear, "Damn, battery's dead!" in the school corridors? Many many many. (In my school kids could use their phones before or after school.)

CaroGirl
11-17-2010, 06:58 PM
Devices run out of charge, get forgotten, lost, broken or stolen. There are lots of ways to dispose of technology to make a plot work.

veinglory
11-17-2010, 07:19 PM
There are still a large minority of people who don't have cell phones (the one I have is my first, bought for work reasons) or even computers.

dirtsider
11-17-2010, 07:36 PM
Part of my plot is complicated by the fact that the information my MC's need isn't found on the internet. It's written down in books found mostly in private collections. So while the MC's are able to get at it, it takes a bit of effort to go find it, either by the MC's or their allies. Add in the fact that most of the people who the MC's have to deal with are pretty eccentric, things get fun. Tech and magic generally don't mix because the general attitude is magic is magic and tech is tech.

MsGneiss
11-17-2010, 10:05 PM
Tech and magic generally don't mix because the general attitude is magic is magic and tech is tech.

Definitely. A lot of the urban fantasy books that I really like make it clear, early, quickly, and easily that technology breaks when magic is around. I'll totally buy that - it's not a huge demand on my suspension of disbelief faculties, really, and it doesn't disturb the flow of the narrative or the plot. But in other genres, set in our boring magic-less universe, I do notice that authors have to work extra hard to manipulate the plot so that a protagonist can't just phone for help or look stuff up online... and, occasionally, it's very clumsy.

thothguard51
11-17-2010, 10:12 PM
Its why I write in a world without technology...

Its why I don't write hard scifi...

whacko
11-17-2010, 10:25 PM
The other side of the technological coin is that it actually helps drive the narrative. Instead of wasting a few hundred words explaining how your MC managed to get hold of a vital piece of information... he/she can now just Google it or something.

But most classics won't work when you scrutinise them under today's technology. The mobile phone has seen to that. So no more for want of a nail the shoe was lost... One quick call would stop the battle being lost!

There's also a classic movie, Metropolis, set in the future but made in 1929 or something. Fritz Lang, for it was his vision, included skyscrapers and all that stuff. But his vision of futuristic air travel was prop driven bi-planes. A case of close but no cigar.

Yet even with all the marvels we now take so for granted, there will always be one constant -

People going into dark rooms/houses/corridors without a torch.

Phaeal
11-17-2010, 10:31 PM
Devices run out of charge, get forgotten, lost, broken or stolen. There are lots of ways to dispose of technology to make a plot work.

However, if you keep using these tricks so that your devices NEVER work in a crisis, that's annoying to a persnickety reader like me.

SPMiller
11-17-2010, 11:06 PM
Obviously, this points to different plotting styles, but I write such that the character can always use every tool at her disposal and still have a hard time of it.

Devil Ledbetter
11-17-2010, 11:20 PM
However, if you keep using these tricks so that your devices NEVER work in a crisis, that's annoying to a persnickety reader like me.
Maybe the thing to do is give characters problems that can't be readily solved with a phone call. I can think of lots of those.

Monkey
11-18-2010, 12:52 AM
I got into a very scary real-life situation night before last--I'd tell you about it, but it was bad enough that it's going to make it into one of my stories--and I was on my cellphone, talking to my husband, the whole time.

The problem was, we share a vehicle, and it was with me. And the reception kept cutting out at the worst possible moments, leaving us both with desperate snippets that ramped up the tension rather than calming us down.

Yeah. I'm totally using that. :D

In my recently-finished novel, the main character simply has no one to call. What she's doing is illegal, so the cops are out, and she's hiding it from her husband, so he's out and so is anyone who knows him. Problem is, she's a housewife, and everyone she knows well enough to call when she's up to something illegal also knows her husband.

But yeah...modern tech does make some plots tricky, and some of the old plots are probably gone for good.

Jamesaritchie
11-18-2010, 01:56 AM
Yea, but many times it feels forced and comes out convoluted. And, I do see what you mean... it comes up in contemporary novels all the time, but I don't like it when there are whole paragraphs devoted to explaining why the protagonist can't do the obvious thing, which is use the telephone.

You don't need whole paragraphs. A simple "There was no signal" works fine, just as the escuse use dto be "the lines were down."

And you can also use a setting where cell phones generally don't work well.

There's always a way. And I have no doubt writers worry about this a lot more than readers.

blacbird
11-18-2010, 02:00 AM
The dog ate my cell-phone.

rugcat
11-18-2010, 02:06 AM
My plots often rely on someone being out of touch. And they're set in an urban setting. It's really annoying to have to invent new reasons through every book as to why someone doesn't simpy give someone else a call on their goddamn cell.

S.J.
11-18-2010, 02:15 AM
I sort of like the fact that technology forces novels to change. It also makes lots of new/cool things possible.

I was thinking about this the other day. I was reading 'Moll Flanders' and the ease with which she can change her name and lie about her past is astounding. There are also several mishaps where characters who don't want to see each other end up in the same place, or where stagecoaches miss each other, etc. With Facebook Locator and Twitter and CCTV cameras and etc, that really wouldn't be possible...

thothguard51
11-18-2010, 02:30 AM
There is also such a thing as technology overload...

artemis31386
11-18-2010, 08:04 AM
I think there's always a way to make classic plots work--even if it involves updating elements of that plot to fit into today's world.

Nivarion
11-18-2010, 12:06 PM
Heh, I had to rewrite my last book because while my male teenage protag was the sort to leave his cell phone on the charger, his female BFF had hers permanently attached. It was easy to get him into a situation where he didn't have his cell, but when she came to rescue him, there was no way she'd have left hers behind. So, what the hell, I just had to arrange things so that the help she called in didn't get there too soon.

Cell phones are a big pain to plotting, for sure. They're sort of a deus (or at least 911) ex machina beacon. ;)

There's always that old saying. When seconds count, the police are minutes away.

Captcha
11-18-2010, 03:53 PM
I had a situation where I wanted a character to not get information immediately, so I thought, okay, maybe he's forgotten his cell phone, and it actually turned into a pretty useful characterization point. I went back to the start of the book and made him forget his cell phone on several other occasions, and had other characters comment on how he didn't seem interested in connecting with them or anybody else, etc. I think it worked.

DancingMaenid
11-18-2010, 04:26 PM
I guess it depends on what you mean by "plots."

I think most basic plots can work in almost any setting. But the setting is going to determine some of the particulars. The details can become obsolete, but rarely the stories themselves.

Torgo
11-18-2010, 04:50 PM
I enjoyed the hell out of this YouTube video (http://laughingsquid.com/cellphone-no-signal-montage-from-horror-suspense-films/) - a seemingly endless montage of clips from recent horror movies where OMG THERE'S NO CELLPHONE SIGNAL!!!

Jack Parker
11-18-2010, 10:19 PM
There is also such a thing as technology overload...
I agree. People rely on technology more today than they rely on themselves or others. The gadgets get smaller and do more every time a new one comes out. Now we can carry more of them around with us than ever. We've fallen for advertising, plain and simple. "YOU deserve the best!" "Make YOUR life easier!" We've become so focused on ourselves and our need (lust, desire, demand, addiction... take your pick) for entertainment and convenience that we can't be bothered with others anymore. Not to mention that people will willingly leap further into debt just to have the latest and greatest next best thing.

Everywhere I go, people have earphones or a BlueTooth in their ear or their staring at tiny screens. Or both! Cell phones ring in business meetings, movie theatres, churches, during nights out with family or friends, in check out lanes where they hold up the lines, while their driving, etc., No one seems to draw the line anywhere. They do it because they can. And don't you dare mess with their "right" to do it no matter how inconsiderate or rude it is.

It's addiction but people won't admit that. It's breaking down community and people are now an island unto themselves.

This is why I'm not a fan of technology. I do NOT claim to be better than anybody. I'm the most imperfect person I know. Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying. If anything, my eyes are more open and I see it more than most people do because, for more than 10 years, I haven't owned a television, radio, stereo, DVDs, CDs, dishwasher, car, etc., Once these things were gone, it took 18 months for the effects of media, Hollywood and advertising to wear off of me. After that, I no longer had a desire to own any of these things. It's like watching zombies or people who are enslaved or people who chose the red pill instead of the blue one (Matrix reference for those who don't get that one). I was able to see with new eyes just how much people let others (advertising, media, Hollywood, government and peers) do their thinking for them. A lot of rationalizing goes on to make people feel better about themselves and the poor choices they make.

Without a life filled with technology and gadgets, I have more than enough time every day. Time to read, write, volunteer and have down time for myself. I see first-hand how much time technology steals from us.

That's why including much technology in my writing is challenging for me.

Jack Parker
11-18-2010, 10:21 PM
I had a situation where I wanted a character to not get information immediately, so I thought, okay, maybe he's forgotten his cell phone, and it actually turned into a pretty useful characterization point. I went back to the start of the book and made him forget his cell phone on several other occasions, and had other characters comment on how he didn't seem interested in connecting with them or anybody else, etc. I think it worked.

That sounds perfect. You found your solution and went back to set the precedence so it wasn't a matter of convenience for the writer. Great job!

Jack Parker
11-18-2010, 10:27 PM
I enjoyed the hell out of this YouTube video (http://laughingsquid.com/cellphone-no-signal-montage-from-horror-suspense-films/) - a seemingly endless montage of clips from recent horror movies where OMG THERE'S NO CELLPHONE SIGNAL!!!

That was pretty funny to watch a compilation like that. It makes what Jamesaritchie said ring true. You don't need paragraphs to explain a non-working phone. A simple sentence will do.

Cyia
11-18-2010, 11:24 PM
If anything, my eyes are more open and I see it more than most people do because, for more than 10 years, I haven't owned a television, radio, stereo, DVDs, CDs, dishwasher, car, etc., Once these things were gone, it took 18 months for the effects of media, Hollywood and advertising to wear off of me. After that, I no longer had a desire to own any of these things.

Dude, you own a computer. That gives you #'s 1-5 on your list in one package.

:tongue

whimsical rabbit
11-18-2010, 11:40 PM
Ever heard of that saying? There's a problem for every solution. :D

Technology may have eliminated old challenges, but at the same time it can very well create new ones.

Jack Parker
11-18-2010, 11:58 PM
Dude, you own a computer. That gives you #'s 1-5 on your list in one package.

:tongue
True, it could. Other than the occasional YouTube video, I don't watch TV or movies on my computer. I've never been a big music person so I don't listen to any on my computer.

I use my computer for research, writing and reading headline news. And, now, having joined AW, to spend some time here learning from all of you.

Again, don't get me wrong. I may not personally like technology very much but I don't put people down for enjoying it. I don't think technology is all bad. The world has gained incredible strides with it along with having taken a few leaps backwards. What I dislike are the effects of technology as it continues to isolate people from community. This has led to a whole host of problems.

The disadvantage to my own viewpoint is that it makes including newer technology in my stories a real challenge. I can't imagine writing a scene where a character is playing Wii games when something happens.

benbradley
11-19-2010, 12:49 AM
I was thinking that a lot of my favorite works of fiction would not be possible in our modern technological world. For example, Gogol's "Inspector General" just could not happen in a world of cell phones and Wikipedia. I suppose some genres have the wonderful "technology doesn't work around magic" plot device, but generally, I think that having a culture of instant communications, where any bit of information can be easily looked up, makes a lot of the classic plots virtually impossible. What do you all think? What are some books you love that just wouldn't work in modern times?
Yeah, I'm so glad with all this information available that no one falls for scams anymore.:roll:

SPMiller
11-19-2010, 01:06 AM
What are we going to call this worthless trope? No signal ex machina?

Sure, in story terms, we want our characters cut off from external support so that they must solve the problem on their own, but there are countless better ways of pulling that off than simply asserting from our position as Story-God that there will be no cell signal, or that the character somehow forgot to bring or charge her cell phone, or that something damaged or destroyed the cell phone, or some other coincidence.

As someone pointed out to me: before cell phones, landlines got cut. Fortuitous coincidences to further the plot have always been common, but if we write intelligently within the context of consensus reality, technology is not an enemy.

Or we can write historical and fantasy fiction instead. I guess that works, too.

Cyia
11-19-2010, 01:11 AM
What are we going to call this worthless trope? No signal ex machina?



Instead of God In the Machine, perhaps "God Out of the Machine" since the signal, or power, disappears when needed instead of popping out of nowhere to help.

dirtsider
11-19-2010, 01:32 AM
Definitely. A lot of the urban fantasy books that I really like make it clear, early, quickly, and easily that technology breaks when magic is around. I'll totally buy that - it's not a huge demand on my suspension of disbelief faculties, really, and it doesn't disturb the flow of the narrative or the plot.


Actually, it's not so much that technology breaks when magic is around as the mindset of the mages. It's more that they're very secretive and don't want to get caught on camera. They don't put their lore out on the internet, partially because knowledge is power but also because having that information traced back to them could get them killed. (With good reason - there are secret societies willing to go to great lengths to suppress that kind of lore.)

MsGneiss
11-19-2010, 02:47 AM
What I dislike are the effects of technology as it continues to isolate people from community. This has led to a whole host of problems.


Strange - I feel quite the opposite. I feel like technology allows us to form communities (global communities at that) with much greater ease. Take AW, for example! I feel much more a part of something here on AW than I do at my local writer's group or book club. When I travel to parts of the world where I have no Internet access, I feel incredibly isolated.

(And, here, I mean computer-Internet technology, for I too have never really had a TV).

Devil Ledbetter
11-19-2010, 03:53 AM
Strange - I feel quite the opposite. I feel like technology allows us to form communities (global communities at that) with much greater ease. Take AW, for example! I feel much more a part of something here on AW than I do at my local writer's group or book club. When I travel to parts of the world where I have no Internet access, I feel incredibly isolated.

(And, here, I mean computer-Internet technology, for I too have never really had a TV).I get what Jack Parker means. I was recently at a tradeshow and it was bizarre seeing so many people wandering around in a zombie-like daze, staring into their smartphones and scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, like their very lives depended on it. They've traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to meet people in their industry face to face, and yet they get there and completely zone out for the sake of whatever "more important" thing is happening on their phone.

I was near the front in a crowd at a rock concert. A couple pushed and shoved and crammed their way to stand in front of me. Then the female pulled out a cell phone and spent the rest of the concert texting and texting. It was sooo important to get close to the stage that she had to step all over me, but once she was there she paid zero attention to the concert while she zoned out and texted.

I have a Blackberry. I am not anti-technology. But I do think etiquette and common sense are severely lagging behind the technology. Some people are too stupid to realize they can put damned phone away and pay attention to what's in front of their face.

jaksen
11-19-2010, 04:00 AM
I agree. People rely on technology more today than they rely on themselves or others. The gadgets get smaller and do more every time a new one comes out. Now we can carry more of them around with us than ever. We've fallen for advertising, plain and simple. "YOU deserve the best!" "Make YOUR life easier!" We've become so focused on ourselves and our need (lust, desire, demand, addiction... take your pick) for entertainment and convenience that we can't be bothered with others anymore. Not to mention that people will willingly leap further into debt just to have the latest and greatest next best thing.

Everywhere I go, people have earphones or a BlueTooth in their ear or their staring at tiny screens. Or both! Cell phones ring in business meetings, movie theatres, churches, during nights out with family or friends, in check out lanes where they hold up the lines, while their driving, etc., No one seems to draw the line anywhere. They do it because they can. And don't you dare mess with their "right" to do it no matter how inconsiderate or rude it is.

It's addiction but people won't admit that. It's breaking down community and people are now an island unto themselves.

This is why I'm not a fan of technology. I do NOT claim to be better than anybody. I'm the most imperfect person I know. Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying. If anything, my eyes are more open and I see it more than most people do because, for more than 10 years, I haven't owned a television, radio, stereo, DVDs, CDs, dishwasher, car, etc., Once these things were gone, it took 18 months for the effects of media, Hollywood and advertising to wear off of me. After that, I no longer had a desire to own any of these things. It's like watching zombies or people who are enslaved or people who chose the red pill instead of the blue one (Matrix reference for those who don't get that one). I was able to see with new eyes just how much people let others (advertising, media, Hollywood, government and peers) do their thinking for them. A lot of rationalizing goes on to make people feel better about themselves and the poor choices they make.

Without a life filled with technology and gadgets, I have more than enough time every day. Time to read, write, volunteer and have down time for myself. I see first-hand how much time technology steals from us.

That's why including much technology in my writing is challenging for me.

Wow, I don't believe much of this at all. I was an introvert before PCs and cell phones and am still an introvert. I'm not big on community and never have been. I don't like to join groups and the fact I'm even on AW amazes me. I've never felt that technology solves my problems or makes me feel better about things. Technology is a tool and I choose to use it, or not.

I think you've made a lot of generalizations here. You use "we" a lot and made assumptions about how people use and feel about technology. (Who is the 'we' to whom you are referring?)

However, if leaving much of technology behind has made you happier and giving you a more fulfilled life, then that's great. For you.

Cyia
11-19-2010, 04:04 AM
That's a similar phenomenon to what happened earlier this week when Bill Nye fainted during a presentation and, rather than help him, the audience started taking pictures and tweeting the incident in real time. It's like the general public have all turned into nature photogs, programmed not to stop filming no matter what happens with the lion and the gazelle.

In that regard, yes, technology can get out of hand, but that's on the shoulders of the people who don't know how to create their own boundaries. The worst one I've seen personally was a young mother in a chat whose baby fell off the bed onto the wood floor, and rather than stop chatting, she TOLD US "OMG, my baby just rolled off the bed and smacked his head on the floor!!!" Several people jumped in to tell her to get her butt away from the computer and check the baby for injuries; I'm not sure how long she would have stayed like that otherwise.

Jack Parker
11-19-2010, 04:30 AM
Hi sleepsheep. I'm talking more about the gadgets people carry around in public more than anything. People are attached to these things and completely ignore those around them. Politeness and courtesy fly out the window when these folks are so involved in their gadgets that they're walking into others (and blaming them), talking (and singing) too loudly, and holding up lines in stores because they only have one hand and 1/2 an ear available to finish what they're doing in the real world. Why? Because they're in their own little world and have all but checked-out of society. Other people exist to them only when they need a service. Otherwise they're just obstacles to grunt at and avoid.

Technology can be great. I think Devil Ledbetter clarified very well what I tried (ineffectively) to say...


I am not anti-technology. But I do think etiquette and common sense are severely lagging behind the technology. Some people are too stupid to realize they can put damned phone away and pay attention to what's in front of their face.

That's it exactly, Devil Ledbetter. It's mostly the lack of etiquette, courtesy, common sense, or the desire to even try to care about anyone else when their gadgets are turned on. They've checked-out from being part of society and retreated into their own world and rules.

And, yes, there are people who are considerate and polite about their gadgetry. At least they're showing some restraint and self-control. Even so, there just isn't a sense of familial community most of the time. It seems we only see it after a tragedy, like 9/11 or the trapped miners in Chile. And even then, it all dissipates shortly after, like a morning fog.

Communities exist online now. It's impersonal and sad to me.

Jack Parker
11-19-2010, 04:50 AM
Wow, I don't believe much of this at all. I was an introvert before PCs and cell phones and am still an introvert. I'm not big on community and never have been. I don't like to join groups and the fact I'm even on AW amazes me. I've never felt that technology solves my problems or makes me feel better about things. Technology is a tool and I choose to use it, or not.

I think you've made a lot of generalizations here. You use "we" a lot and made assumptions about how people use and feel about technology. (Who is the 'we' to whom you are referring?)

However, if leaving much of technology behind has made you happier and giving you a more fulfilled life, then that's great. For you.

Not everyone's experiences are the same. You don't see it the way I do and that's fine. You're entitled. What I wrote is hardly Breaking News by any stretch. News reports, magazine articles, television episodes, etc., have all been done on exactly what I talked about, so they weren't generalizations. The difference between you and me is simply that I, apparently, feel more strongly about it than you do.

And, as I originally said, I've been out from under the thumb of Hollywood, media and advertising for over a decade. That effect has worn off and I can see it more clearly not having it streaming into my brain regularly like most people do. Unless a person has experienced it from the angle I'm coming from, I don't believe they can understand fully. I'm not trying to be high-and-mighty in saying that. But it's true. When you're immersed in something, others who are standing on the outside, looking in, gain a different perspective than the person in the middle of it. Especially if they've been where the other person is.

As for the word 'we' that I used, yes, it's a polite, less accusatory way of writing rather than excluding yourself or saying 'you' or 'other people' instead.

ETA: I wrote the above post yesterday. Just this morning on CNN's website, there's another story (video) about this very thing. (Adding to my point that what I said isn't just my opinion but fact.) Here's the link (http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2010/11/19/po.lady.in.glass.house.cnn?hpt=T2).

Jack Parker
11-19-2010, 04:56 AM
That's a similar phenomenon to what happened earlier this week when Bill Nye fainted during a presentation and, rather than help him, the audience started taking pictures and tweeting the incident in real time. It's like the general public have all turned into nature photogs, programmed not to stop filming no matter what happens with the lion and the gazelle.

In that regard, yes, technology can get out of hand, but that's on the shoulders of the people who don't know how to create their own boundaries. The worst one I've seen personally was a young mother in a chat whose baby fell off the bed onto the wood floor, and rather than stop chatting, she TOLD US "OMG, my baby just rolled off the bed and smacked his head on the floor!!!" Several people jumped in to tell her to get her butt away from the computer and check the baby for injuries; I'm not sure how long she would have stayed like that otherwise.

The Bill Nye incident is the perfect example of what I was talking about regarding Hollywood, the media and advertising. We're all about being part of it, capturing the moment to put it on YouTube or to sell, instead of caring more about the person who was hurt or in trouble.

And yes, you're right, the onus is on each person as to how they act when they have these gadgets. But look at the examples they're given in media, tabloids, advertising, Hollywood, etc., Heck, just look at the Bill Nye incident.

MsGneiss
11-19-2010, 05:10 AM
Hi sleepsheep. I'm talking more about the gadgets people carry around in public more than anything. People are attached to these things and completely ignore those around them. Politeness and courtesy fly out the window when these folks are so involved in their gadgets that they're walking into others (and blaming them), talking (and singing) too loudly, and holding up lines in stores because they only have one hand and 1/2 an ear available to finish what they're doing in the real world. Why? Because they're in their own little world and have all but checked-out of society. Other people exist to them only when they need a service. Otherwise they're just obstacles to grunt at and avoid.


In that case, I think we agree. But, I think that all these people who are terribly rude and inconsiderate with their tech would be just as rude and inconsiderate without tech, just in a different way (although, perhaps tech makes the rudeness much more obvious and annoying). We do have laws that address this you know - in NYC you get huge fines (and points on your license) for using a cell phone while driving, which is, I think a very good idea. But in other cases, where tech use is merely annoying (and not necessarily dangerous to the lives of others) it really becomes a matter of common courtesy. Some people are nice and polite, and others are not.



Communities exist online now. It's impersonal and sad to me.


This, I'll have to disagree with. I think that the communities people form online are wonderful. I appreciate the global aspect of it, and I think that we are actually better off, as a society, because we have such easy access to people from all nations, religions, and walks of life. This sort of communication just wasn't possible before, and I think it's actually a very good thing.

Jack Parker
11-19-2010, 06:13 AM
In that case, I think we agree. But, I think that all these people who are terribly rude and inconsiderate with their tech would be just as rude and inconsiderate without tech, just in a different way (although, perhaps tech makes the rudeness much more obvious and annoying). We do have laws that address this you know - in NYC you get huge fines (and points on your license) for using a cell phone while driving, which is, I think a very good idea. But in other cases, where tech use is merely annoying (and not necessarily dangerous to the lives of others) it really becomes a matter of common courtesy. Some people are nice and polite, and others are not.
That's good to hear. Once again, people could learn from New York's example. Here in Minneapolis, rudeness abounds... in spades.


This, I'll have to disagree with. I think that the communities people form online are wonderful. I appreciate the global aspect of it, and I think that we are actually better off, as a society, because we have such easy access to people from all nations, religions, and walks of life. This sort of communication just wasn't possible before, and I think it's actually a very good thing.
Once again I failed to be clear. I think online communities can be great. That's why I created my first e-mail address to join AW. I saw the camaraderie and a kindredness among the users that I genuinely felt and wanted to be part of.

What I should have added to my statement is that online communities appear to have replaced communities in the 3D world. People have their short list of close friends and family but that's it. No more allowed. Strangers aren't given the time of day unless it's to grunt at them. The majority of people (according to polls) don't know their neighbors. People are suspicious of each other. If something, or someone, doesn't match-up to our own beliefs or way of thinking, they're bashed, ridiculed or ignored. That even applies to comments people leave online, like on YouTube for example. Yikes!

I'm sorry, sleepsheep, it wasn't my intention to lead the discussion down a rabbit trail. I apologize. I started out talking about why including technology in my writing is difficult for me. I think I started thinking out loud from then on! I'll be good and keep the conversation on topic from now on. :e2zipped:

dirtsider
11-19-2010, 05:53 PM
What I should have added to my statement is that online communities appear to have replaced communities in the 3D world. People have their short list of close friends and family but that's it. No more allowed. Strangers aren't given the time of day unless it's to grunt at them. The majority of people (according to polls) don't know their neighbors. People are suspicious of each other. If something, or someone, doesn't match-up to our own beliefs or way of thinking, they're bashed, ridiculed or ignored. That even applies to comments people leave online, like on YouTube for example. Yikes!

Funny thing is I recall a conversation about 10 years or so ago. I live in an apartment complex and at one point the landlords tried having a meet and greet. (Now they just have the annual pool party.) I mentioned to someone that I knew everyone in my side of my building (there are multiple buildings) by face, if not by name. We always nod a greeting to each other at very least. One of the people I was talking to sighed and said he didn't even know the people on his floor by face, let alone by name. I find that sad. Upside is, I still know the people on my side of the building, even though several people have moved out in those 10 years and others have moved in. We even try and do a group snow dig-out in the winters. It's our chance to chat with each other.

whimsical rabbit
11-19-2010, 06:21 PM
Technology may be voluntarily used for the destruction of one's brain cells, or to save lives when many years ago it just wasn't possible. It's really the way you use it, and what you make of it.

I love my television set because I can watch DVDs, but I don't even own a television antenna (seriously), so I don't even watch TV programs. I love my internet connection because it's a beautiful cheap way to educate myself on important issues if I use it properly. I like finding articles that show me why homosexuality is biologically defined and not a 'deadly sin'. I like to read the same historical events from different perspectives with a single click and get rid of my chauvinisms and closed-mindedness, even more so when I know how sourcing works and how I can double-check the facts. I don't go around reading what pop starlet A wore at that party, or bitch and fight with people that called my favourite rock star 'talentless'.

As far as gadgets are concerned, I love the fact that I can load my music to a little device as opposed to having to carry around a whole tape recorder, while my eyes are always open to who's following me and whether there's a car coming behind me. My husband gave me an mp3 as a birthday present a few years back because he knows how I just love sinking into music, and I've never felt the urge to replace it with the massively expensive new iphone model.

Some say kindle may 'kill' literature. Fine, it's their opinion. I say kindle can save whole forests.

Technology can change our lives in the most fascinating, wonderful ways. You can still be a victim of mass consumption trends whether you buy the newest, coolest gadget or a pair of boots everybody wears. You can still be enslaved to mental inertia if all you do is window-shopping and beer-drinking. It really depends on the person, and how lazy he or she can be when it comes to self-reflecting. Just my opinion.

Dave.C.Robinson
11-19-2010, 08:25 PM
Here's an option that I'm surprised no one has mentioned yet:

Many protagonists are poor, so maybe yours has a prepaid cell phone and they've run out of minutes because their creditors call them?

Or maybe the call goes to voice mail?

Or maybe their phone was cloned and has been shut down remotely?

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Plot Device
11-29-2010, 01:32 PM
Now that we have computers and cell phones, it would be impossible to do a remake of Soylent Green without doing a huge overhaul of the entire story.

First of all, a key part of the story's premise inlcudes the lack of books. Most of the trees of the world are gone now, so books cannot be printed anymore, and paper is a rare luxury only for the rich. So the education of the masses has crumbled out of existence. Meanwhile, many of the barely-functioning institutions and professions (such as government sector jobs) do not have the money for older books, and cannot print new instructinal manuals, so there is an elite class of elderly people affectionately known "books" who each get paid to BE a book, or an ongoing source of knowledge to a younger person who needs to have ready access to information. And then there is a crucial "meeting of the minds" where the one old man in the story (he's the "book" that services our hero Charleton Heston, an NYPD detective) goes to meet with a bunch of other old people, and he shows them the data in the latest oceanographic survey -- a secret document that the public has no access to. All the old people sit around and read the survey and they now realize what it is humanity has sadly come to. But all of these admittedly imaginitive-for-the-1960's plot-critical problems get blown out of the water when you toss 21st century computers into your world-building efforts.

Second, the suspenseful ending of the film has Charleton Heston racing for his life through the streets of New York, trying to make his way to a "police call box" so he can call for help. But a cell phone would have taken care of that one.

These are not minor plot points. Removing them would gut the entire story. Heck! An entire character (the old man named Sol who is Charleton Heston's "book") would get eliminated!

It would take a very skillul writer to try and adapt Soylent Green to include computers and cell phones.




::ETA::


For ha-ha's sake here are some video offerings

0) The original theatrical trailer. (Man, it really SUCKS as far as trailers go!! Hoaky!! But it hits key plot points.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVpN312hYgU


1) The original opening sequence behind the credits, telling the backstory of how society changed for the bad via pollution and overpopulation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlVczvB4FQk


2) A film student's revisioning of the opening sequence where instead of focusing on images of industrialism, he focuses on images of food.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjrlKozPjVA&feature=related



3) A fan's modern day vision for an alternate trailer for the film. WARNING!! SPOILERS!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08Gs77rRalA&feature=related


4) Two different fans did their own condensed digests of the whole film in a mere 7 minutes. WARNING!! SPOILERS!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTjQO163P2E&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WR8O0H6gKqs&feature=related




.

Plot Device
11-29-2010, 01:50 PM
Here's an option that I'm surprised no one has mentioned yet:

Many protagonists are poor, so maybe yours has a prepaid cell phone and they've run out of minutes because their creditors call them?

Or maybe the call goes to voice mail?

Or maybe their phone was cloned and has been shut down remotely?

Etc. Etc. Etc.


Running out of minutes is actuallly more of a comical plot twist than a heart-stopping suspenseful one ---I've seen it used as a comical plot twist in the past. It's hard to make the audience/reader feel for a character who was dumb-ass enough to run out of minutes, instead they will just get irritated with him, or just laugh at him with a disgusted kind of laugh (the wrong kind of laugh for when you want the audience/reader to empathize with your character).

One secret of suspense is to make things happen to the character that he/she didn't deserve and didn't bring upon himself/herself via negligence or stupidity (or even poverty). The audience/reader has little tolerance for that. They are far more inclined to be sympathetic to calamities that were completely out of the control of the character.

While poverty is often out of the control of many people, you would still need to handle that excuse just right to make it come off as not comical or irritating.

djf881
11-29-2010, 02:47 PM
A problem that can be solved with a cell phone is a stupid problem to have in a contemporary setting, and a character who is unequipped to solve such a trivial problem is unworthy of reader sympathy. It is sloppy and artless to have a plot that relies on the unavailability of a commonplace object. If you have to write a cell phone "dead zone" into your novel, your story has a fundamental, irreparable defect. There are no cell phone dead zones.

Cell phone networks have blanket coverage throughout the developed world, and widespread coverage everywhere else. Your cell phone will work on top of a mountain in a snowstorm. Cell phones are used in remote parts of Africa where there are no conventional phone lines, and people charge their cell phone batteries with generators because there are no power lines. I think the Amish keep a few cell phones around in case of emergency because their religion forbids being connected to the world through phone wires.

Children have cell phones. The elderly have cell phones. Homeless people have cell phones. Everybody has a cell phone.

The only places cell phones legitimately don't work are in subway tunnels and other underground spaces (unless there are signal repeaters built into them), in hospitals, and inside casinos (for some reason). a phone plausibly might be unable to get a signal in an enclosed space with thick walls, like a bank vault or a bomb shelter.

Anywhere else, you should assume every character is carrying a phone in a contemporary story, because readers will. In fact, you should assume everyone has a smartphone with a camera and GPS and access to the Internet, and you should not fabricate problems that are easily solved with devices that people commonly carry in their pockets.

Plot Device
11-29-2010, 05:33 PM
I beg to differ.

I hit dead zones all the time here in Massachusetts, and when I travel up in Vermont, and when I am at my family's summer home in rural Pennsylvania. I even hit dead zones inside of certain buildings such as office towers and big box stores.

Your "location" reads New York? New York City? Try going out into the countryside some time and see what happens to your own cell reception.

waylander
11-29-2010, 05:54 PM
There are no cell phone dead zones.

Cell phone networks have blanket coverage throughout the developed world, and widespread coverage everywhere else. Your cell phone will work on top of a mountain in a snowstorm.
Children have cell phones. The elderly have cell phones. Homeless people have cell phones. Everybody has a cell phone.



You obviously haven't visited rural England where there are plenty of places without cell phone coverage. There are also places with coverage on only one network, for example if the land owner will only allow a base station from one provider then you're screwed if that is not the network you're on.

dirtsider
11-30-2010, 09:52 PM
Yeah, cell phone reception can be tricky. If the MC's inside a building, that can cause a problem with reception unless the building's wired for cell phone reception. The older the building, the less likely the MC's going to get reception the further in s/he goes. (Personal experience.) Also, the batteries might drain if the MC puts their bag with their cell phone on in a drawer. (Happened to me more than once.)

As for the pre-paid minutes, trust me, the phone company will bug you to make sure you up your minutes several times. They'll call you on your cell, on your home land line if you have one, and send you emails. Again, personal experience. So the running out of minutes scenario on a pre-paid phone shows the MC's either lazy, forgetful, poor, or deliberately trying to avoid something/not wanting to be bothered with it.

Computers: wonderful things but not everyone has a Blackberry/iPod or laptop to carry around all the time for instant research. Even then, the MC's Google-fu might not be up to snuff for whatever reason. (I'm sure everyone here had that problem.)

jaksen
12-05-2010, 08:18 PM
A problem that can be solved with a cell phone is a stupid problem to have in a contemporary setting, and a character who is unequipped to solve such a trivial problem is unworthy of reader sympathy. It is sloppy and artless to have a plot that relies on the unavailability of a commonplace object. If you have to write a cell phone "dead zone" into your novel, your story has a fundamental, irreparable defect. There are no cell phone dead zones.




I live less than thirty miles south of Boston. We has dead zones. Lots of 'em.

I also have a home on Cape Cod in a heavily-populated area. I have to leave my house, walk up the road and sit on a rock to use my cell phone. (Or one neighbor suggested the jetty.)

Of course, overuse of dead zones looks like an easy out when writing. So does a worn-down battery, or running out of minutes. But so did the villain cutting the telephone line to an old house in a thunderstorm.

But all these things do happen. I had to go out in a storm to turn off the gas. (It was leaking into my house on the Cape.) My cell didn't work; I could smell gas. My neighbors weren't home. The coyotes were howling. Good God, I thought, what a ho-hum incident in a horror movie, but it happened. I also had no cell service while trying to get emergency help for my mother. Such things do happen.

Oh one more thing. I live in a college town. During graduation we get this message on our cells: No Service.
Or sometimes it reads: Service overload.

That's cuz we can't make a call out when all the kids and their parents are in town, phoning and texting like mad.

It REALLY HAPPENS.

Dave.C.Robinson
12-05-2010, 08:38 PM
A problem that can be solved with a cell phone is a stupid problem to have in a contemporary setting, and a character who is unequipped to solve such a trivial problem is unworthy of reader sympathy. It is sloppy and artless to have a plot that relies on the unavailability of a commonplace object. If you have to write a cell phone "dead zone" into your novel, your story has a fundamental, irreparable defect. There are no cell phone dead zones.

Cell phone networks have blanket coverage throughout the developed world, and widespread coverage everywhere else. Your cell phone will work on top of a mountain in a snowstorm. Cell phones are used in remote parts of Africa where there are no conventional phone lines, and people charge their cell phone batteries with generators because there are no power lines. I think the Amish keep a few cell phones around in case of emergency because their religion forbids being connected to the world through phone wires.

Children have cell phones. The elderly have cell phones. Homeless people have cell phones. Everybody has a cell phone.

The only places cell phones legitimately don't work are in subway tunnels and other underground spaces (unless there are signal repeaters built into them), in hospitals, and inside casinos (for some reason). a phone plausibly might be unable to get a signal in an enclosed space with thick walls, like a bank vault or a bomb shelter.

Anywhere else, you should assume every character is carrying a phone in a contemporary story, because readers will. In fact, you should assume everyone has a smartphone with a camera and GPS and access to the Internet, and you should not fabricate problems that are easily solved with devices that people commonly carry in their pockets.

Not everyone has a cell phone, and not all phones work everywhere.

I used to work for AT&T's international wireless desk - and also did domestic tier two support and troubleshooting. I've seen internal coverage maps, and the idea that any carrier has cell service everywhere is ludicrous.

Places like Africa actually have an advantage over the US, because like most of the world they are almost completely GSM, so essentially every phone can use every signal. I remember being up in Vermont and my AT&T phone had no signal at all - but my partner's work Blackberry (Nextel) worked fine. After we switched to Verizon, we could go visit her son in WV and while his AT&T phone had great coverage, we only had basic voice - and there were Vz dead spots on the road out there.

The presence of two incompatible networks makes dead spots more likely in the US than other places. It's the classic case of your character has carrier X but all the locals use carrier Y because they're the only one with service.

I'm not saying that writers should rely on the fallibility of cell phones, because they are quite reliable, but one shouldn't expect they should work all the time, every time either.

Medievalist
12-05-2010, 10:39 PM
I totally can't read the Odyssey now.

Ulysses would just use his GPS and be back in Ithaca in a day or two.

Homer has been ruined for me.

Dave.C.Robinson
12-05-2010, 11:12 PM
I totally can't read the Odyssey now.

Ulysses would just use his GPS and be back in Ithaca in a day or two.

Homer has been ruined for me.

But now I can read Conan the Blackberrian! And the Gray Mouser gains a whole new meaning to his name.

maryland
12-06-2010, 12:55 AM
Detective fiction of the Agatha Christie era often used radio programmes as either establishing time or giving an alibi.
"I heard the opening music of Saturday Night Theatre when the shot rang out. Elsie was in the library at the time.George's car was coming up the drive." And that was the real evidence that would clinch the case.
Even when TV appeared, programmes were sceduled almost in stone - no way of recording them.
With today's playback, programme repeats and the use of recordings, all that certainty has gone (and any point of time can be faked.) So there's all our alibis ruined.

jaksen
12-08-2010, 05:23 AM
I totally can't read the Odyssey now.

Ulysses would just use his GPS and be back in Ithaca in a day or two.

Homer has been ruined for me.

The GPS programs I have used cite roads (on Cape Cod) that don't exist. We laugh our asses off as they tell us to turn right - into a wooded area that MIGHT have had a road planned there 20 years ago, but no road ever was there.

Another one, a road which runs along a nearby shore, long-ago eroded away.

Yet another, a road where a beach is. Another example of long ago planning (make that 60+ years ago) that never came to fruition.

Yeah and what about those news stories of people trapped on off roads in the snow? When the locals find them, it's like omg why did they take a logging road in the dead of winter?

I think I just had a story idea. :D

Medievalist
12-08-2010, 05:42 AM
Yeah and what about those news stories of people trapped on off roads in the snow? When the locals find them, it's like omg why did they take a logging road in the dead of winter?

What about the truck driver in Washington who was relying on his GPS when he drove under a bridge that took off the top of his truck?

Jamesaritchie
12-08-2010, 06:07 AM
Now that we have computers and cell phones, it would be impossible to do a remake of Soylent Green without doing a huge overhaul of the entire story.

First of all, a key part of the story's premise inlcudes the lack of books. Most of the trees of the world are gone now, so books cannot be printed anymore, and paper is a rare luxury only for the rich. So the education of the masses has crumbled out of existence. Meanwhile, many of the barely-functioning institutions and professions (such as government sector jobs) do not have the money for older books, and cannot print new instructinal manuals, so there is an elite class of elderly people affectionately known "books" who each get paid to BE a book, or an ongoing source of knowledge to a younger person who needs to have ready access to information. And then there is a crucial "meeting of the minds" where the one old man in the story (he's the "book" that services our hero Charleton Heston, an NYPD detective) goes to meet with a bunch of other old people, and he shows them the data in the latest oceanographic survey -- a secret document that the public has no access to. All the old people sit around and read the survey and they now realize what it is humanity has sadly come to. But all of these admittedly imaginitive-for-the-1960's plot-critical problems get blown out of the water when you toss 21st century computers into your world-building efforts.

Second, the suspenseful ending of the film has Charleton Heston racing for his life through the streets of New York, trying to make his way to a "police call box" so he can call for help. But a cell phone would have taken care of that one.

These are not minor plot points. Removing them would gut the entire story. Heck! An entire character (the old man named Sol who is Charleton Heston's "book") would get eliminated!

It would take a very skillul writer to try and adapt Soylent Green to include computers and cell phones.




::ETA::


For ha-ha's sake here are some video offerings

0) The original theatrical trailer. (Man, it really SUCKS as far as trailers go!! Hoaky!! But it hits key plot points.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVpN312hYgU


1) The original opening sequence behind the credits, telling the backstory of how society changed for the bad via pollution and overpopulation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlVczvB4FQk


2) A film student's revisioning of the opening sequence where instead of focusing on images of industrialism, he focuses on images of food.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjrlKozPjVA&feature=related



3) A fan's modern day vision for an alternate trailer for the film. WARNING!! SPOILERS!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08Gs77rRalA&feature=related


4) Two different fans did their own condensed digests of the whole film in a mere 7 minutes. WARNING!! SPOILERS!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTjQO163P2E&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WR8O0H6gKqs&feature=related




.

Shoot, no one can afford food, let alone cell phones. In such a world, police boxes would possibly be the only communication anyone had. And they probably wouldn't work most of the time.

But there's ALWAYS a way around any problem. Soylent Green seems easy compared to most. I don't see a tough rewrite there at all.

Lyra Jean
12-08-2010, 07:24 AM
The dog ate my cell-phone.

It worked in Jurassic Park III. The dinosaur ate my satellite phone.

Lyra Jean
12-08-2010, 07:41 AM
My husband's cell phone doesn't work when he's in the reception area of his workplace but he has reception everywhere else.

I used to live in an apartment that was a complete dead zone unless I was near a window and my phone was in my hand closest to the window. That was weird.

Medievalist
12-08-2010, 07:56 AM
In my parents' old house in Maine there was cell phone reception only via direct-line-of-sight to a cell antenna on a nearby hill.

I would have to sort of contort myself into a corner near an open window on the second floor if I wanted to use the phone inside. Otherwise, there was a two-foot square area on the deck that usually worked . . .

Nivarion
12-08-2010, 11:18 AM
I just wanted to add on that not everyone has a cell phone. I got my first phone in September. It's a tracfone that I paid $9 for and has a little bit of internet function.

I can sorta see wikipedia pages.

The screen is only about 1.5x1.5 inches, so I can't see a lot and trying to use the net gives instant carpel tunnel.

I do have a computer, obviously, but my battery life on it can be counted on one hand... In seconds. I have to hibernate it to got to the next room to print a paper. And then I have about 30 seconds to get over there and get it plugged in.

So as far as new fangled electronics go, unless a plot can be solved with an Ipod or a simple phone call I'd have to use other things. Like the swiss army knife I've had since I was twelve (and admittedly took to school with me but that's a different story.)

poetinahat
12-08-2010, 11:56 AM
Technology also enables the glossing over of time lapses, and it works for telephones, computers, even newspapers. How many times do you see a character pick up a phone and say, "Hello? ... Really? Thanks." A three-second conversation... Then, "That was Wizneiwski from the One Twenty-Seventh in Bedford-Stuyvesant. They dug up our suspect's records, and it turns out he was married twice before, once to a lion-tamer in Lithuania and fourteen years later to an endocrinologist in New Zealand... etc."

Or,
"Hey, can you do a search to find anything on brown-haired dentists in Oxnard?"
"Hmmm, I think so..."
tappity tappity tap...
"Yes, here you are. There are eleventy-seven brown-haired dentists in Oxnard, and forty-nine of them live within eleven and a half miles of the crime scene."

And it isn't necessarily technology that's the issue; it seems to me that Agatha Christie mysteries are rife with shortcut discoveries. I watched a Poirot mystery the other night where, apparently, Poirot suspected a murder was jewelry-related. He knew of one dodgy jeweller. In all of London. Et voila ... he was the one!

These sorts of things are why I write poems. No worrying about plausibility!

LordMoogi
01-02-2011, 12:09 AM
The atomic bomb pretty much killed the realism for 'global war' stories that don't end with everybody getting blown to hell. Sure, stories of the type get written anyway, but it gets pretty difficult to justify them.

Shadow_Ferret
01-02-2011, 12:56 AM
There are still a large minority of people who don't have cell phones (the one I have is my first, bought for work reasons) or even computers.

I was going to call you on this, but then I looked it up. If asked, I would have said less than 50% have cellphones, but in the U.S. it was 82.4% in 2007 and worldwide over 5 Billion have cellphones.

cornetto
01-03-2011, 10:43 AM
South Dakota is full of dead zones--like practically the entire western half of the state. Reception is only good along the I-90 corridor. It's totally hit and miss out in the Black Hills and you might as well leave your phone at home if you're going into the Badlands. Coverage is better east of the river, but you still lose signal in valleys, metal buildings and basements.

And just because you have a working cell phone, with good signal and lots minutes, doesn't mean you can reach the person you need to call or that they can help you in a timely fashion.

There were a couple of episodes of Storm Chasers where they were trying to intercept tornados in western SD. They not only lost reception for their cell phones, they also lost their internet connections, so they had no radar. They were chasing blind, which is fairly dangerous. One team actually got trapped on a road with a tornado in front of them and a tornado behind them and no escape route. They were lucky they didn't get egg beatered.