Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Turn off, tune out, go ride your bike...

As a twist on the famous quote by Timoty Leary, I propose turning off, tuning out, and going for a bike ride. I recently had an e-mail exchange with another bike shop owner in Texas. He had generously sent me some brake cable housing of a color I could not find through any of my distributors. He gave me his cell phone number to contact him while in Las Vegas at Interbike so I could buy him a beer. Unfortunately, I don't have a cell phone. As soon as my service contract expired, I cancelled it. I hadn't turned it on and used it for at least 6 months. I'm either at home, the shop, or out on a ride where I don't want or need to be talking on a phone.

I'm not sure how folks survived without cell phones 10, 15 years ago. Is there no down time any more? Is everything so important that one needs immediate gratification of talking with someone? Is it nothing that can't wait until the person you are trying to reach comes home or you see them next? I read a report that an estimated $588 billion is lost each year due to interruptions at the workplace from non-work related internet use, phone calls, text messages... That's 588 BILLION DOLLARS every year! No wonder American productivity is such that corporations are moving jobs offshore. We've got no one to blame but ourselves.

Now, check this out: in another report from 2003, 2 million jobs and $356 billion were being out sourced offshore. Is it possible that if workers focused on their job while at work, productivitiy would outpace what could be saved by outsourcing?

How does this fit with bikes? I read several bicycle related blogs. I read them in Google Reader so I only have to go to this one location to read them only when something is new. Helpful and time saving. One of them is Interbike Times. It's a good source of industry news. However, in the past couple of days there were a couple of posts that kind of left me scratching my head. One was about companies not embracing "social media." It wasn't the post itself, but how the information for the post was received - "Courtesy of a Basecamp Communications Twitter post this morning..." Twitter post? And then this one: Getting Interbike 2008 New & Updates Via Twitter. There it is again - Twitter?

I don't know about any one else but every time I hear or read that word "twitter," I immediately associtate The Who's Fiddle About, twitter about, twitter about. Not being real clear on exactly what Twitter is, I followed the link in the Interbike Twitter post to Twitter in plain English. Okay, now I really don't get it. So basically, someone "twitters" that they are getting a cup of coffee or some other mundane task and other people follow the posts? Hey, guess what I'm doing right now! Who cares! It's hard enough setting time aside to read a few blogs. Who has the spare time to post bits on twitter and then read other peoples posts. I'm sorry, but that's just sad to feel the need to keep up on this stuff.

I guess one "twitters" via a cell phone. So now you can use a cell phone to twitter, IM, text (I guess there's a difference between an IM and a text message, but I'm not going there), surf the web, and hey, you can even talk to a live person! I'm the first to admit that I'm a dinosaur. Most of these new-fangled devices do nothing to enhance a person's life. They just clutter it.

I had to do a bunch of errands a few days ago. I brought a book to read while I waited at the various stops I had to make. At one place I was sitting on a bench quietly reading when someone talking on a cell phone came and sat next to me yacking on the phone. Pretty much ruined my ability to read as the person's one-sided conversation flooded my ears. At a doctor's office waiting room, I pulled my book out again while next to me a woman frantically punched the keyboard of some miniscule device. Do these people really need to be connected all their waking time? Imagine what the world would look like if you had no idea what a cell phone was. You'd walk down a city street and see all these people aimlessly talking to themselves. Bunch of loonies, you'd think.

Turn off, tune out, go ride your bike (without a cell phone or music plugged into your ears). It really is okay to miss out and not be constantly in touch. Trust me, I'm a bike mechanic.

(What's playing: The Staples Singers Respect Yourself)


Bushpig.vrc said...

F yea!

Rich Kelly said...


I enjoy reading your posts. Thanks for your nice words about our blog being a helpful source of industry news.

As for your thoughts on Twitter and other social media, I get bouts of socialnetworkitis pretty frequently myself and am sometimes challenged to keep up with all the Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace "friends" and updates. Twitter, though, seems to have "stuck" with me. It's a simple and easy way to stay in touch with friends and colleagues in the industry. It's unobtrusive and the short 140 character limit keeps posts quick and to the point.

My use of Twitter for the show this year is to have it send out reminders of events ("The Hite-Rite tech clinic starts in 15 minutes in room 201"), updates ("The Lance Armstrong autograph signing has been moved to the LeMond Cycles booth") and any other news that might pop up during the show. It's free, totally opt-in and you can choose to have it send the posts to your cell phone or just check it every now and then on one of the pc's in the online lounge or your laptop if you have one. I'm guessing you won't be bringing an iPhone with you to the show...

Yes, there are inane posts that are all over Twitter. There are also worthless blog posts - does that devalue blogs as a communication tool?

Along with the inaneness there are also great bits of info and insight into what's going on in the community. Just choose the right people to follow. It's also a great way to get feedback or opinions on ideas you may have. Again, it's just another way to stay in touch, meet and communicate with other people.


Doug said...

("The Lance Armstrong autograph signing has been moved to the LeMond Cycles booth")...funny stuff Rich!

I don't have a cell phone because I can't come up with a good enough reason to get one.

My wife and I were walking along the sidewalk in downtown Minneapolis on a recent trip down there. At one point I put my right hand up to my right ear as I was walking along. My wife asked me what I was doing. I said, "I'm just trying to look like I fit in".