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The Future of Distracted Driving

Ohio’s getting tough on texting.

While it’s only a secondary offense for adults, teens can be pulled over if they’re using almost any electronic device.

The dangers of texting are almost a cliche, with countless PSAs and texting deaths becoming plot points in shows like Go On. That being said, how many years and how many accidents had to happen before we had a ban?

I don’t think this is a “nanny state” issue. Driving is an activity that effects the people around you, not just yourself. Bans on big gulps and trans fats are a different matter than distracted driving.

The pace of technology is greater than the pace of law. Smartphones and tablets only increase the number of things we try to do while driving. And even a hands free bluetooth can be a distraction if the call is emotional or agitating.

But this is only the beginning. Google’s new Glass will introduce the general public to wearable computing, and to the new world of augmented reality. Remember those TV shows where random facts about the show and actors popped up on your screen. Now imagine that an inch from your face. You look at a nearby store and a coupon pops up. You look down the road and Google informs you of traffic snarls.

It may not be all bad, but sight and reaction time are the most important factors in driving. We’re not as good at multi-tasking as we think. Our brains may be good at switching back and forth between tasks really quickly, but not at the exact same time.

Driving with Google Glass will be dangerous and I think we need to get out ahead of its release with a ban similar to the one on texting. We need law that can keep up with new gadgets. Whether through some kind of review committee or broader law I’m not sure, but it’s a discussion we need to have.

Before the first Google related death…

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My Writing Haunts

Despite what John Scalzi says I like bringing my laptop to coffee shops.

I like going out to write for a couple of reasons. For starters, I like to change up my environment, observe new people, sit in a different chair or sip on a different beverage. Going out also lets me give myself little rewards for getting work done, like browsing the clearance CD’s at Half-Price Books after I’ve revised the night’s work. And sometimes I just need to get away from my home office which has its own distractions (video games, picking the room up, cats who claw at my laptop bag).

Half-Price Books has actually been a great place to work, as long as I don’t get too distracted with browsing. I go to the location on Lane Avenue, near OSU campus. There isn’t much in the way of seating or table space, but my favorite spot is usually open. I tend to write in the far back corner near the books about Hitler and Nazi Germany. For some reason there don’t seem to be a lot of people who browse in that section. My netbook fits perfectly on the little tables, and there is no WiFi signal nearby to distract me from my work.

As coffee shops go it’s a toss up between Panera and Crimson Cup. Crimson Cup is typically not as busy, though sometimes I like some chatter in the background. I’m one of those people who finds it very distracting to work in absolute silence. Both aren’t open very late (only 9pm), so I sometimes go down to the campus Cup O Joe which is usually open til 1am.

I tend to be most successful working out when I have a set goal (1700 words or 11 pages of revising) that once accomplished allows me to either continue or enjoy wherever I happen to be. I might get more work done if I worked at home at a stretch, but browsing bookshelves is often a good way to get ideas, or at least to encounter new authors. I don’t do this every night I write (usually 1 or 2 times a week), but it helps to break up my thinking and keep me from getting into ruts. The only downside is that it can be tempting to only finish the set goal, rather than to continue on if I’m on a roll (a point well illustrated by Lisa in “The Book Job“).

How about you? Do you find it helpful to always write in the same place or change it up?

NOTE: One of my favorite places to revise and read was the Evening Star cafe, closed a number of months ago. They were one of these places where the owner knew you by name and the food was cheap and delicious. It is now a Z-Pizza.

ADDITIONAL NOTE:

When I was writing for 107 days straight I ended up working in two dozen different places. Here is a short list:

  • 1-6: At home (My Office, The Porch, In My Old Chair Upstairs, The Basement, The Kitchen, The Den)
  • 7-12: Around OSU Campus (OSU Panera, Buckeye Donut, The Union, Joy’s Village, Cup O Joe, Lennox Barnes and Noble)
  • 13: Half-Price Books (Lane Avenue, most frequent)
  • 14-16: Other Paneras (Bethel, Clintonville, Youngstown)
  • 17: Crimson Cup (Clintonville)
  • 18: Worthington Library (too quiet!)
  • 19-21: Punderson (Library In Main Lodge, Front Porch Of Cabin, Subway Down The Road)
  • 22: About a sentence of DM was written in OSU Doctor’s offices.
  • 23: Starbucks (Sawmill)
  • 24: Occasionally on my lunch break at work in Delaware.

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