Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I travel light. I don't need ten different shoes or complete wardrobe changes. I pride myself on being a drama-free traveler never stuck trying to cram a carry-on suitcase overhead and shove a duffel-size bag under the seat in front of me. I am simple. I count my trusty chapstick as makeup and my bulk when traveling is simply file folders if I can't convert to some electronic format. So just WHEN did I become someone who takes hours to pack? It isn't shoes or clothes, it is all of my electronics. When did I become this Gadget-Girl?

It started, I suppose, with an mp3 player. I got my first mp3 player before a study abroad trip to China in 2005. It was so convenient! Then, of course, came the laptop. "I have to travel with this to do my work," I justified. After that came the e-reader, my nook. "My research books are on here and the new sci-fi book is a treat for the airplane" ranted my inner dialogue. I have always loved snapping and sharing pictures, so the camera had to travel, of course. And, well if we're being honest, the all- important Blackberry must come along. It isn't even considered as optional these days.

All of this electronic encumbrance hit me as I packed for a conference a few weeks ago. The first thing I always pack is my little neon green bag I have dubbed the "cord keeper" which has the nook charger, the blackberry charger, the mp3 charger, the laptop cords, the tiny mouse for the laptop, the camera to laptop usb, and a little desktop speaker (with wire) for my mp3 player. Seriously...the bag wouldn't zip.

At what point do the gadgets lose their flexible, fun options and become necessities in our lives? Couldn't I simply use the "nook app" on my laptop or cell phone and leave the e-reader at home? Shouldn't I just play the music on my laptop and nix the mp3-speaker combination? Why not just rely on the blackberry's camera feature instead of lugging around the actual camera?

Apparently, I'm a closet gadget freak. It is no secret that I belong in the land of nerds and I embrace that membership fully. But I had no idea that I was such a Gadget-Girl! I really did think of myself as someone who could just pick up and go...until that little green bag refused to zip. Realization: it is time to downsize.

Over the past two months I have been non-hurriedly shopping for a personal netbook to make my conference travel easier than my work-issued clunky, heavy laptop. It was also an opportunity to streamline the gadgets. Then, my institution began talking about issuing an iPad for instructors in the pilot phase of our new QEP ("E-focused!"). Could this little gadget be the answer to my wire-filled wearying ways? Nothing is certain, but I will be eager to examine the opportunities if the iPad comes into my hands. If you have experience with an iPad and work-related use (computing, communicating, etc.) please post or email and let us know how it is working out for you.

Now, where are my ear buds, mp3 player and flash drive? I've got work to do...

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