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The Pequod
Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more


Email Push

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I was quite amused to see that Barack Obama is not to be allowed to keep his ever-present Blackberry with him once he takes office next year. Whilst obviously it is easy to laugh at obsessive "Crackberry" addicts who feel the urge to respond to emails even when on holiday or during the night, I guess the US President is allowed a little bit of leeway to become a telecommunications Atlas, keeping the world together by his fingertips.

Most of us normal folk have no such excuse. But I will confess here and now that I am an email junkie. Not having a laptop, I get anxious when I have to go away for a couple of days. What if something important is piling up (though it invariably is not)? What if I miss something (though I invariably don't)? So it was with a mixture of wariness and enthusiasm that I responded to the news that my Three mobile provider are now offering email push as part of my monthly contract. Tech-junxie that I am, I signed up immediately for this new gizmo. But I was also conscious that this might get me into the bad habit of responding to emails when I am supposed to be doing other important things, like, erm sleeping.

However, I have been very pleasantly surprised at how liberating it is. Especially during term time, which brings a daily barrage of emails from students, I tended to get into the bad habit of checking my email last thing at night before bed. This invariably meant a wasted half hour, either responding to things that could have waited, or surfing the web rather than curling up with that book I really need to read. Likewise, in the morning, when I usually do my best reading and thinking, instead of capitalising on my mental alertness I would run upstairs and do the mindless sifting of my inbox. With the phone, however, I get a discrete buzz in my pocket, and can check it as quickly as checking a text message. Usually, knowing it is nothing important, I just leave it at that. Alternatively, I can starting mentally filing those messages that do matter and must be responded to next time I'm at a PC, from those that can wait. No turning on the computer, hanging around whilst the hard drive churns aimlessly. No anxiety when I failed to check my emails for a couple of days. Just me, getting on with the more important things in life, but still plugged in to the live world of the web.

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Posted by Alistair at 3:36 pm

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