Magazine article Management Today

In Touch with Your Ego

Magazine article Management Today

In Touch with Your Ego

Article excerpt

In the '80s I could provoke carriage-loads of respectable train travellers into a fury. Deputations would sway up the aisle to admonish me, hot-faced with that kind of British anger usually meant for queue-jumpers. It was easy. All I had to do was talk continuously in my loud, annoying voice, blaring away in marketing - speak -- my second language -- into my toy telephone. I bought one the moment they became smallish -- ie, not a risible brick. They cost the thick end of [pound]2,000 then -- 1985 -- and I've had one clapped to my ear ever since (so if what they say is true, I'm a goner).

The mobile was an obvious advance, a wonder. I remember trying a New York number when I was tucked up in the sleeper to Scotland and being amazed when it rang. I've had a fax machine at home from about the same time. Another no-brainer, like e-mail in its time.

But that's it. I don't really want any more travelling toys. I want to see where I'm going, or have a little think or a big write. That's what travelling is for. Now, of course, everyone in every train carriage has a mobile, and in Business Club World they've got a great deal more, with a whole new breed of strappy, sacky black nylon Business Class luggage to carry it in. It's wonderful to watch grown men taking out their toys on the seven o'clock from Bath to London. The lap-top, the Palm Pilot, the Psion, the WAP phone with its absurd little screen. Wonderful to see the toys arranged on the table, testimony to being busy, in-touch, wanted, a Mobile Master of the Universe.

Soon they'll be Personally Power Assisted, with a modem linking an implanted chip in the brain to every satellite going. If I were a performance artist I'd take that train with a couple of ostentatious wires going into my head. One could make a thing of peeling back some skin (latex) to display the connections, Robocop fashion. But now all you'd get would be people asking where they could have the operation.

People are starting to think of themselves as commercial cyborgs too, man-machine combinations. Every little economy of one has to have its IT system and communications. In a wired world you can work seamlessly, be seen to work continuously. You can always be reached -- always. There's no goofing off, no lying low at Tiffany's in Sutton Coldfield. …

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