Isaac Asimov had a story in which people carried personal computers on their belts. It was far-fetched at the time (1950s?) but today we have powerful machines in our pockets with more computing power than the vessels took men to the Moon. Their power and capabilities are far in advance of their use as telephones or tele-writers. They are true televisors which can send and receive pictures between callers who have similar devices. But for me there’s a problem. Even held at arm’s length the perspective distortion in faces is ugly and distracting, and that can be too far away for comfortable conversation. So what’s the point? I have tried mine, and prefer not to use the video. Good for sending a picture of one’s surroundings, but not for a picture of oneself!
Televisor in my Pocket
Of course it’s something out of science fiction
simply something that we take for granted now
as part of our familiar world. What a wonder
it would have seemed only one generation ago!
A phone with a screen; see the caller and she sees you,
if that’s what you want. But here’s the twist –
I never use that function, don’t like it at all!
It isn’t just the unavoidable distortion of perspective
that can turn a face into an obscene caricature
viewd from far too close through its tiny lens –
I don’t like it – that tiny talking picture
is something that I can’t connect with anyhow.
Until we have a holo screen at least a handspan wide,
or else a way to show each party as from at least a metre
then I’m never going to use it despite technology’s best.
Who’s prepared to talk from so short a distance
except perhaps a lover, and even then, arm’s length
is much more comfortable for normal conversation!
© Malcolm Miller