Forbes Managing Editor Attempts Techno-Cold Turkey for a Week on NBC

When good-sport Forbes managing editor Dennis Kneale let NBC take away his cellphone, Blackberry and email for a week for the Today show special segment entitled "Could You Do Without?", little did Kneale realize he would end up in tears. What an excellent segment! It's a testament to the techno-addiction to which few of us are immune. Especially us.

How about you? Could you do without?


Actually, I think doing without cellphones, internet or email is a perfectly valid test. Think about it - mass adoption of these devices is barely a quarter century old! Internet - how many people were on the Internet a decade ago? A decade and a half? Email - ditto. Cellphones - did you have one two decades ago?

None of these are recent - cellphones are probably nearing a half-century old, as is email and Internet. However, the mass public only got a hold of these devices when, less than two decades ago, probably less than a decade and a half. And the Blackberry is barely a decade old. Hell, I still remember when the only people who had pagers were doctors and drug dealers (now doctors complain that they can't be reached without cellphones - pagers have been far more ubiquous far longer than cellphones).

I suppose it's somewhat interesting to see how in barely 20 years, society has adopted these new technologies so fast that they've become essential. Cellphones 20 years ago cost a dollar a minute, and $100/month got you barely 100 minutes per month.

That's why stuff like doing without cars, etc are far different - doing without internet/email/cellphone is doing without technology that only recently became ingrained in culture. Everyone over 40 has lived a good part of their life without cellphones, email and internet. We're talking about technologies that are recent, yet everyone's already forgotten how they lived without them for the vast part of their lives.

Everyone who's in the workforce (basically everyone of working age, young and old) - think for a moment that when you were young, your parents didn't have all this connectivity during the most vital time of your life - when you could get in an accident, and be completely out of reach of your parents. That's how recent all this technology is - the people entering the workforce were raised by parents who until the later part of their lives, actually were disconnected.

That's what makes things like this so interesting.