April 18, 2011, 2:24 PM — Three quick little news items that have only a passing connection on first glance, but are actually cause-and-effect:
These three are more than just evidence that mobile and wireless computing have grown so fast they've surpassed the capacity of the Internet to name and track them all without migration to a whole new naming convention.
They're more than an admission that sensitive data stored on and sent via handhelds has become so common a security issue that the White House is willing to weigh in on it because it thinks enough people are worried about security and aware enough of mobile computing that they won't stare open-mouthed while the President's aides talk about technology.
They mean we've passed a tipping point beyond which individual humans can no longer be assumed to be unconnected to one another (no peace and quiet), to the hierarchies of responsibility to which they belong (work, school, family responsibilities) or from the information they need to act responsibly in a connected society (don't pretend you didn't see that 'No Cell Phones' sign).
They mean enough of us are always connected enough of the time that we can reach others or be reached, be tapped to fulfill obligations we thought we'd escaped by going to the beach or the golf course.
They mean (in addition to getting lost less often because the shackles that chain us to our other responsibilities also come with GPS), we have no excuse for saying we don't understand something enough to act on it. That's true whether you think of it as meaning you now have to vote, or that you have no good excuse to void going to a city council meeting to stand up for something you believe in, or to oppose that bunch of lunatics in the party you dislike, who are ruining the country.
It means no longer having an excuse to separate yourself from the rest of your life.
That could sound like a huge convenience or an enormous burden, depending on whether you view play or work as the central part of your life.
Either way, it means things have changed irrevocably and we have to stop pretending they haven't.