So some of you may or may not have noticed that I was interviewed for a story in the NewsJournal this weekend, which ended up being on the friggin' cover (!) on Saturday, complete with an absurdly HUGE picture of my fat face, right there on the cover. Silly!
I just want to sit down and let y'all know how this came to pass, to elucidate what I feel are the broader points to be made regarding the subject matter, and to defend myself against the already mounting, and somewhat justified haters.
If you have not read the article, and have no idea what I am talking about, perhaps (or perhaps not) take a moment and read the article in question. A quick synopsis: Folks are using technology to avoid speed traps. Internet sites have popped up that provide maps which display the location of popular police speed traps, as well as, potentially, live information about the location of speed traps, road blocks, check points, etc.
What makes me an expert on this topic? I am not. So how did I end up on the cover of the NewsJournal flaunting said technology in the face of every police officer this side of the Delaware??????
It all started a week or two ago, when I was trolling through the itunes store in search of FREE apps for my new iphone. As previously discussed in this space, I was torn between my (at the time) current carrier's newest offering, the Palm Pre, and the third installment of Apple's iPhone, on the AT&T network. In the end, Apple's stable platform and PLETHORA of applications, both free and costly, won the day.
One such app I came across in my searchings was called Trapster, which was free, and purported to provide information, in real time, depicting where one might find police officers IN ACTION, kickin' their groove in prime ticketing mode.
As I said, this app was free, and to be honest, I downloaded it as a bit of a lark, as they say. I don't speed, at least not in the BIG, traditional sense of the word, ie: 95 mph on 95, or anything like that. I would say I average about 10-15 miles over the speed limit, which is approximately what everyone else seems to do as well.
So there I was, sitting at lunch, effing around on the twitter, when I came across a "tweet" from the editors of the NewsJournal (http://twitter.com/del_editor): Anyone use twitter or the Internet to let others know about speed traps in #Delaware? Let me know...
So, being the natural maven that I am, I shot them a message, saying "check out the free Trapster App for iPhone." I swear to you, dear reader, that at this point I had no ideas or intentions of getting myself on the cover of the newspaper, or anywhere else for that matter. But sure enough, a couple of hours later, my friend and NewsJournal writer Esteban Parra called me up, and started asking me some questions about the application and its uses. Now, really, at this point, I had only downloaded the thing, checked it out a little bit, and basically forgotten about it. I don't so much advocate such devices, I was only attempting to help them on their search for information.
But now, DELIGHTFULLY, I might add, I am literally the poster child for such technological 'in your facedness' directed towards our fine officers and the governmental bureaucracy that props them up. While this was not my intention, I can only sit back and laugh heartily. It is just too, too funny.
Moving beyond myself, FINALLY, let's discuss, for just a moment (it's getting late), the broader implications that such technology implies moving forward into the future. First, I find it interesting that Twitter played a specific role in drawing me into this story, and further, for allowing the NewsJournal to gather information about their story. I have always found Twitter (pre-Iran) to be pretty useless.
Of course, the Iranian explosion showed the amazing potential and infinite uses such technology promises. But think about the discussed technology (Trapster) in the context of a country like Iran, rather than the good ol' USofA, as experienced and documented here.
In America, the police have a growing number of tools at their disposal which are on the high end of the technological bell curve, such as: laptops, radios(!), cameras that can take 1500 license plate pictures per minute and run them against a database, and such things also as horses, bikes, tazers, and automobiles.
Nonetheless, it can and should be argued, to some extent, that we are NOT living in an oppressive state, insofar as we are not subject to governance such as one will find in the likes of North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, et al. Defining oppression, within the context of this sliding gradient, proves difficult. The only pure, autocratic oppressorship on this short list is North Korea...
In America, I have a couple of speeding tickets, and, were my skin darker, I might have numerous other charges on my 'rap sheet.' But really, I never drive tooo fast, but the police seem to be right there when i do. All the more reason this whole thing is funny (to me, at least).
Even so, I wasn't actively seeking this application, any more than I was seeking the "guitar tuner' application I came across, which is AWESOME.
But imagine someone in Iran (or elsewhere), twittering away via his mobile device, able to, in real time, report on the positions of opposing, imposing forces. In a real way, such technology is an opening salvo in a war with truly no end. Once airplanes, or war elephants, were introduced into the battlefield, could one ever imagine a world without them??
Already, soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere utilize this technology via high tech government gadgetry, and the roles of such devices will only grow. But in a state on the brink, such tools could easily serve to 'level the playing field' with an autocratic state intent on imposing their rule. Imagine an Iran, a month ago, where, along with the twittering, a portion of the protesting populace were able to communicate, in real time, collectively, the whereabouts of the revolutionary guard.
As always, I thoroughly enjoyed being interviewed and written about for the newspaper. And as I joked to Todd and others, "I'm gonna look like a total dick!"... all I can say now is "told ya so!"
One more thing: I just wanted to give a shout out to all the people across the country who lost their jobs @ Gannett this week. That was the real story on Saturday, and that's probably why my idiot face was taking up 1/4 of the cover. Read the article printed next to this one, regarding the George W. Bush surveillance efforts, and consider it against what I've written here for further intellectual enjoyment.
One more thing again: I just might have to write a whole other column responding to some of the comments on the online version of the article. People are mean! I actually haven't read them yet, but my wife read out loud some of the highlights. I hope I am so motivated, because I will enjoy bringing them back down to earth.
Thanks again, Esteban and Bill! I had a great time!