Since Christmas Day I suspect millions – both children and adults – have been toying with their new electronic devices. Defining myself as pragmatic is not a mark I would instinctively attribute to my personality.  A  closer and less airy characterization might be simplistic or blunt or narrow. I mention this because it is easy to become flummoxed by the legion of options on any one of the apparatus. It is as much a part of the set-up process to be guided by the principle I heard enunciated years ago in a comic death scene in an old black-and-white film, “You say to me, darling, What is the answer? and I say to you, What is the question?

In the interest of development I have regularly experimented with various gadgets (hardware) and applications (software) many of which I have ultimately and willingly abandoned. Trading down or up is for me a perpetual accommodation. Sometimes the gadget or the program is entirely adjusted to a different need than intended. At my level of modification it is probably little more than using a silver spoon to dig up dirt in the garden. But importantly the definition is directed to a specific purpose rather than superfluous alternatives. I flatter myself in this expediency by mentioning that often the ambition involves minimal expense; that is, I have on occasion succeeded to use a basic device to accomplish a more difficult one (though perhaps at the price of having to think). In modern parlance the pursuit may be defined as a “work around”. This adulteration may for example apply to the distortion of public social media for private library purposes. Historically it isn’t much beyond buying an antique for ornamental purposes.

I naturally accept the predicament of the developers to foresee every need or use of the retail purchaser though when assessing the default settings it is good to keep in mind the influence of youth when compared to the declension of age. Similarly the dizzying heights of technology are like everything else, moribund.

Perhaps a greater acknowledgement is that technology is not the emancipator – as regularly as one hears the proclamation of divine agency. Indeed the initial achievement of many devices to facilitate communication and even creation (at least on a business level) has waned over time and in some cases has maneuvered its own unpredicted infection. For this reason as well one must be prepared to dwindle to the elemental nature of humanity wherein sometimes the most simple expressions and obligations are paramount and ultimately instructive or meaningful. Once again it is all too easy in these otherwise complicated circumstances to overlook what is right before our eyes. If one hasn’t far to go, then one needn’t go too far.