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Dc: This is DCR, news meant for amusement. Technology continues in the direction of miniaturized wireless communication, but consumers are finding it a mixed blessing. This week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration convened hearings on driver distraction, warning that people too often fiddle with little gadgets and gizmos behind the wheel. And it seems that even walking can be a hazard, as every day there are a greater number of tiny devices to carry around. Wendy Vapors reports.
(sfx: city street)
Carl: Everything's attached to the belt. This is my cell phone. This is my pager. This is my MP3 player. This is my Palm Pilot. This is my global positioning device. My TV. (fade) This is my personal cockpit voice recorder if anything goes wrong
Wendy: (vo) Carl Pepperdine's belt is like a department store Christmas tree. It's gaudy, and there are a lot of thingies hanging off of it. It's awkward, he says, but necessary if he wants to stay in touch.
Carl: To be connected is to be free, you know? They say "don't drive or walk with your devices turned on," but how can I disconnect? I AM the office, wherever I go. See this? It's a little fax wand. I sweep it over the document and then plug it into the phone!
Carl: Then it goes into this loop on my belt.
Wendy: You've got everything but the kitchen sink.
Carl: I've got the microwave! See this? Insert the probe and I can finish cooking the inside of my rare hamburger with low power waves. No more sending it back to the kitchen and that long wait!
Wendy: And it doesn't like sterilize you?
Carl: I don't think so. But what if it does? I don't have time for a family anyway. Look at the gadgets on my belt! Where would the baby's stuff go?
Wendy: (vo) Carl Pepperdine is not alone in his enthusiasm for the latest portable paraphernalia. Marva Hathaway is a freelance pants designer.
Marva: In fashion today, Pockets are Huge.
Wendy: You mean, like Big?
Marva: I mean huge.
Wendy: Like in enormous?
Marva: No, not enormous.
Wendy: But huge means enormous.
Marva: Huge like Trendy, not Huge Big.
Marva: Because the devices themselves are small.
Wendy: Why is that?
Marva: You never know what's going to beep or blurt or whistle or tweet next, and if you can't figure out which one is ringing it's kinda geeky to be fumbling around and flustered.
Wendy: That would be embarrassing.
Marva: Hugely embarrassing. As in Big, not Trendy.
Wendy: Speaking of trends, experts say that just like the universe itself, all these tiny electronic appliances will eventually crash back together.
Al: In the future there will be One Little Gadget. Just one.
Wendy: Al Baba is a staff Gizmologist at the Center for the Study of Portable Doohickeys.
Al: Your Little Gadget will know more about you than you do.
Al: You laugh, but remember, once these are developed, you'll get your first one when you're very young. A baby. It will be a teething ring, but it will also remember everything you do. It will record your image, your voice, your thoughts, your homework, your love notes, your job applications, the details of your insurance and your pre-and post nuptial agreements. All in the memory.
Wendy: So lose that, and there goes your whole, like, identity.
Al: Yes, which means in the future, pickpockets will be as dangerous as hackers!
Wendy: (vo) Which is why Marva Hathaway is convinced her creations will be popular for a long, long time.
Marva: Other designers say enough with the pockets, already! But even when we have to carry only one thing, that thing will be so important, you'll want to have decoys to protect it. Lots of decoys. With lots of places to stash them. So . I'm staying Huge on pockets.
Wendy: Huge as in Trendy, not Big!
Wendy: I'm Wendy Vapors, and I'm reporting!