Downtime & Play

Trebor Scholz muses on the nature of time in the always-connected world:

On my way to Zurich I just met a colleague at the airport. We both fly routinely. "I can't do it anymore." he said. "All this air travel is just too much downtime for me." I moved onward passing through airport lobbies in New York City, London, and finally my Swiss destination. In these inbetween spaces I was persistently confronted with big, fat back-lid ads. And they were all about time. T-Mobile's slogan is "Upgrade your downtime." The airline Jetblue draws attention to their wireless hotspots at John F. Kennedy with the commanding "downtime-download." The mantra of the British Vodaphone is "The power of now!" BT shows a jolly business man fly-jumping through what looks like a landscape of Powerpoint charts: "The digital network economy. Where business is done." In JFK, Sprint, the American cell phone tycoon, set up yellow placards in the size of a house that say "yes to making just about any place a work place." It made me stop. I was buffled. How dare they be so in my face about what I perceive as the agony of immaterial labor?