Theory and Practice

The Metamorphosis

Slowly, surely, I am undergoing a profound mutation. My old self is giving way to a new being, one that I could scarcely have imagined could ever exist. That which I knew and loved is now seen through a news lens. This is affecting my very core.

I am almost gone now. The iPhone has taken over.

I am a fairly late adopter of this marvelous device. I managed to resist the pressures both external and internal until December of last year. I really wanted an iPhone, but I was determined to wait until my current contract was up and I could get the new phone with a minimum of pain. And then the day arrived and my wife and I trucked on over to the Apple Store. And I swallowed the chrome and glass pill.

And the metamorphosis began.

The change started within minutes. After I got the phone, we headed up to the Body Shop, and while Karen purchased some smelly soap or something, I watched my Contacts list fill up from MobileMe. “Wow”, I thought. Painless and easy.

I sent my first email a few minutes later. And then browsed the Web. And checked a map. I barely remember the ride home.

In the intervening time, I have become completely dependent on my iPhone. I read my feeds, check my mail,, browse the Web. I twitter away at all hours of the day, write blog posts, and act “social” on Facebook.

I play games on my phone; Rolando is a fave. I have twittered the perils of our New’s Year Eve drive through a snowstorm live from the passenger seat of our Subaru. I’ve even used Brushes to take up painting. I even make phone calls with it. And I’ve started to write software for it.

What’s amazing to me about the iPhone just how much it has come to replace other devices that I used to consider must haves. My MacBook is still getting a decent amount of use but my patterns on it have changed. In some ways, this parallels the transition I made years ago when I started using notebooks instead of desktop systems as my primary machines.

But more than just changing existing patterns, the iPhone is causing me to create new ones. I’ve noticed that since this all started, I’ve started to spend much more time “connecting”. As I’ve said, I’ve started sending out tweets just about everyday, which I was never doing before the phone made it so easy to just peck out 140 characters whenever and wherever I happen to want to write something. I’ve also started to tie together the various threads of my virtual life, integrating twitter, my blog, facebook and other aspects of my life. I don’t think I would ever have done this (certainly not at the pace it’s happening) without a device like the iPhone in my pocket.

I am starting to feel a boost in creativity, too. The painting is one part of that. I’m also starting to feel an itch to create stuff for the iPhone. This is a very empowering aspect of the iPhone: it’s a device that you can not only use to perform tasks in your life, you can participate in creating the ecosystem of that device. This fact has been true for years in the general PC market and even in the mobile space. But I don’t think any device has inspired such feelings as this in so many before. Sure, the iFart app is no great work, but the fact that someone could build and contribute it is pretty amazing. The very triviality of such an app speaks volumes about how rich the iPhone platform can be. If people feel free to reel off apps with little or no “business value”, you know you’ve got legs! :)

Of course, there are competitors to the iPhone on the way. Palm and Google are working hard to catch up to Apple. And they’ll probably succeed along one dimension or another.

But none of these platforms is as likely to so profoundly change my life again.