Tombers is the President of Intermat,
Inc., a consulting practice that specializes in the intersection
of media, technology and marketing. For two years, he produced
the Emmys on the Web and supervised web related activities for
the Academy, including for the 50th Anniversary year of the
Emmy Awards. In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat
recently sold METEORS TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael
ORourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television
movie. Visit his
web site at http://www.intermat.tv
For the week of February 22, 2004
The Wonder Of It All
Media, as we know it, is pervasive. As is the technology
that delivers information. Impossible to turn out and turn
Im not a compulsive media junkie. No ticker tape of
data of any kind floats on my computer screen. E-mail alerts
are not programmed to be sent to me. CNN.com doesnt
float about as my home page.
I generally wake to the sound of NPR; I usually turn on TV
news shortly after I find the first cup of coffee a
superhuman effort for an individual who is NOT a morning person.
Fortunately, I live with a kind person who has the coffee
brewed and a cup ready when I bumble into the kitchen.
During the coffee, I start to come awake. I boot up the computer
and start checking e-mails and listen/watch the news as I
acclimate to the day.
But I am not a person who lives on the absolute cutting edge
of information gathering. I am comfortably back from the cliff
but closer to the edge than the majority of people. I am and
have been an early adopter of technology. I dove for USA Today
when I saw a picture of a one pound computer being introduced
which sounded to me like the answer to my aching shoulders
There is a pda in my life but its not wireless and Ive
not succumbed to the Blackberry. [Truth is, I own one and
I stepped back from using it, asking myself: do I really want
to be all THAT connected?]
So, while not a Luddite, I also do not take for granted the
plethora of devices that surround me. I do remember using
an IBM Selectric. Wangs? Yes, I remember them. Faxes were
something I championed when people said to me: whats
wrong with Fed Ex? In other words, I am middle-aged but not
prematurely old. I love Wi-Fi and can help my clients with
their simpler software issues, like how to open a Word attachment
to their e-mail and to explain what a zip file is.
For the last two weeks, I have gone away from as much of the
tumult of our contemporary life as I could. John McCormick,
the man I call my godfather, had died and was memorialized.
John was not really my godfather but it was the only label
I could use to help anyone understand the place he and his
family have in my life. His passing was fast and profound.
It was like a force of nature had been wiped out of the universe
and I mourned. My breath was taken away and I was out of step
with myself and my time.
Cell phones and technology allowed us to find each other at
airports and to coordinate complicated familial movements
and manage expectations and to connect conveniently with significant
But in that mourning, I slipped away further from the edge
of technology. I did not watch television or listen to the
radio. Newspapers seemed irrelevant. I did not care about
the primaries. Voice mail could take calls and silence
all was a feature to be embraced.
As you can tell from my excitement at a potential full powered
one pound computer, my hiatus from technology has not endured
but it did give me pause and a realization that a pause is
sometimes needed. I didnt give myself enough of a one
because my Catholic Compulsive self kept nattering at my other
selves to get back to work and so I did.
As I rode the Metro in Washington, D.C. my mobile phone vibrated
and I spoke to a colleague who was calling me from his cell
phone in London to discuss with me a Russian woman he had
found who was reputed to have x-ray vision and to confirm
an appointment with me on Monday in New York.
It was only later when he phoned me back with another issue
and I handed my cell to Rita Mullin, with whom I was meeting,
so she could speak with him, did I think about the wonder
of it all.
It is wonderful. It is science fiction. But it is not all
of life. Johns passing reminded me of the need for silence
as well as the value of communication tools.