Magazine article The Spectator

The Wiki Man

Magazine article The Spectator

The Wiki Man

Article excerpt

The strangest thing happened to me the other day. I went into a branch of PC World and found nothing to buy.

I have left PC World empty-handed before, but only through an act of will.

Occasionally I would steel myself not to buy anything before I went in, treating the trip as a test of my resolve, rather as Gandhi shared his bed with young women to test his self-control. This time it was different. I simply could not see anything left to want.

Usually, we technophiles are obsessed with what's coming next. Faster, smaller, lighter, thinner. Yet, for all our neophilia, the fact remains that to enjoy 95 per cent of the benefits of the technological revolution you need own no more than the following:

1) a fairly basic mobile phone with a dependable battery and tolerably large keys;

2) a half-decent wifi-enabled laptop; 3) a home broadband connection; 4) some kind of digital television along with a painless means of recording it; 5) a simple digital camera; 6) sat-nav; 7) a credit card.

If you already have number seven you can probably buy the other six for around £1,000.

I might add the iPod or the Wii to this list. And, in a few years' time I shall surely be adding the electronic book. But that may be all. Which raises an interesting possibility - what if there is no 'next big thing'? Progress is uneven, after all. In the 120-year history of the car, the momentous advances all happened fairly early on: for all the refinements of the last 80 years, the gap between travelling on foot and riding in a Model-T Ford is far wider than the gap between the Model-T Ford and a modern saloon. …

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