August 27, 2004 18:15 | Confession / Culture

On demand living

Over the last few weeks, a realization has been slowly rising to the surface from the depths of my subconscious. (This is actually an apt portrayal of how generally my mind works, but I am going to share with you this specific one. Yes, I said slowly. My brain is one of those massive room-filling supercomputers with reams of storage and processing power but who take weeks and months to spit out an answer. I regularly get my ass handed to me by these whippersnapper desktop PCs who think they are so clever with their quick and dirty solutions... Hrmmm, I am also thinking of doing a quick re-read of Hemingway's "The Old Man and The Sea"... A-ny-ways...)

For the past few weeks I have very much immersed myself in work and almost completely shunned my local social network and it's related scene. More on that second part later.

Similar to what Joi describes, work-wise I have become very "On Demand". First of all, if I am not asleep and not out doing something, I am online. Work related Instant Messages and emails are responded to and acted upon, for the most part, almost immediately, and if not, queued up in my short-term memory (This is a process shortcoming I have to fix, mind you. Stuff starts falling through the cracks real fast. Ticket tracker, work log is in the planning stages.).

(Major design/set-up work notwithstanding, the nature of web work is such that many of my task requests from clients/friends are quick to-dos that can be done in real-time and on-the-spot. It literally takes more effort to log some of these than to do them.)

As for socializing and friends, a switch was thrown at much the same time. Today, when I think "who are my close friends?" I think of a short list of people, almost exclusively all of whom appear in my IM buddy list. No joke. Essentially, if I don't have quick and easy access to you (and you to me), you are lower on my list of people I keep in active memory as people I interact with (I do not wish to get into "what defines a friend?" at this time. I am speaking of people I want and can interact with, when I want.). This has had two immediate impacts in who I spend time with. None of my "going out/party/fun" social network is online, at least not to the extent required to be present in my mind. So, they have not seen me in ages. ;) On the other hand, the 3-4 local people who are accessible to me (Karl, Aaron, Anders, Francis, Steven... some friendster people... ;) have seen me on quite a regular basis, and I enjoy the time spent with them immensely, despite the fact that we can chit chat as much as we want online... and we do.

There is one exception and he demonstrates how decisively this works. Stevey lives one block from me, and he is online all day every work day, during business hours. Outside of that, he rarely appears on my Buddy List. Having a girlfriend, this is all fine and dandy, but we'll often say things like "hey we should hook up..." By his being just one step out of my loop, and my being SO "On Demand", there is almost never a situation where one of us will say "hey wanna go do this now?". However he contradicts my position by consistently being one of my best friends AND someone I will often think "hey if Stevey'd be into...".

Karl, I must say, is also a special case as he disappears downtown, ex-communicato, every afternoon. He does interesting stuff all the time that sometimes I'd love to around for, or I'll sometimes go do something I think he'd be into, but, hey, no way to reach the bum. ;) However, Karl is the one person I've seen the most in the last month. Perhaps because he is just as IM hooked as me, when he's around. Aaron, you're just always busy and you do a damn fine job of pinging me for coffees and lunch anyways. :)

(Non locals, like Ado, Joi, Jim, Dav, John, Jon, make me genuinely feel "really looking forward to seeing you again!")

This is all about availability and accessibility, On Demand. So far.

Now, the ramifications of this on my perception and use of time. Which has always been limbo-esque to begin with.

I always get asked "so whatcha been up to?" to which I always answer "work, mostly" because I feel at a loss to explain this very situation. It is a half truth, if not an all-out lie. I do not work any more than most people, in fact I work far less than most people. I also get asked "so, any plans for the weekend?" to which I also answer "work, mostly", but really, weeks mean nothing to me. Weekend, weekday; same diff. My time is measured in moments and events.

The reality is, I am On Demand. I am liquid. I do what I want/need, when I want/need. At any given moment, on any given day, be it a weekday or a weekend, I can be working on something or I can be out having a coffee, watching a movie, doing groceries, helping a friend.

Sounds great but it has drawbacks of course. Discipline is needed; discipline of the order I sorely lack still. That's why much of the time when I am not working, I am fretting about how I should be working... ;)



Hear hear! Likewise from over here.

There are more than one detail I relate to, which is on the basis of spontaneity. I have a lot of difficulties to organize something that would happen in a week or so. For example, Aaron has to kick my ass saying "do you want this concert?" and I will reply... "hmmm I don't know". It's not because I don't want to see it... it's just that it's very far away in terms of my actions. I deeply cherish the possibility of being able to move, means have the last minute choice freedom. Though it's not always possible.

The only way I can plan things on a long term are things which are on regular schedule. For example, a day for sports, or my ex-communicato in the afternoon to work offline. These are things which are set in my schedule. It doesn't have any logics, but it's the way I do.

I appreciate a lot that we can manage quite easily this spontaneity the two of us.

Now, I have a painful question (*kidding*). Where are the women? Are they less connected? Because If I look at my IM list, there are mostly women. Or I should say. There are male (geeks) and women (normal persons, if normality exists) ;) Though most of them are not in Montreal too.