It’s 3pm in the afternoon and I am sitting on a bench on the Bosphorus pier. I am watching a fisherman calmly throw his rod into busy waters. On shore, life around me is as busy as the waters: corn and bread merchants chants are deafened by boat trip salesmen shouting louder. The backdrop of Topkapi palace
casts a shadow on the pier and provides an island of shade under the blistering sun: I am in Istanbul.
I’ve been here for about a week now on somewhat of a self discovery journey. I took part in the Hellespont Swim, following in the footsteps of Lord Byron and Leander, to swim from Europe to Asia across the Dardanelles strait. More of a mental challenge than a physical one, I succeeded in my quest, crossing
The odd 90 minutes I spent in the water, we resorted back to basics: human instinct, physical abilities and primitive forms of communication: waving, shouting and signaling. Every wave that came crashing down, brought with it a big dollop of fear. Looking back at the moment we lined up on that jetty, it was nature laid bare: our navigation point would be the Radio Mast on the opposite side and we were to swim towards it. No Google maps, no GPS, no navigation boat. The only thing I had remotely technological was a primitive digital chip tied to my ankle that started timing when I jumped off, and stopped when I got out. As soon as I reached Asia, I was back in the matrix: digital cameras, smartphones, iPads, laptops and stereos.
Like most IS grads, I make a living working with data, be it transforming it into information, building or managing it. Yet the more I seem to organize the more data we create. Data on data, a
never ending loop. Game theorist could call that metagame analysis, where one game is the creation of other games. The struggle continues.
For about 90 minutes of my life, I generated no data. Google could not track my location, Amazon could not recommend any accessories, and I couldn’t update my status. Tweeting wasn’t an option either, and there were no CCTV cameras. A couple of jelly fish and the Trojans sleeping 100 meters below were my only audience, and they were not on email. This is one hour that Google can never organize and big brother can never have.
Technology has indeed changed our lives, often for the better, but one forgets how it feels to be completely on your own. I had to swim 2 miles out for that. I better get out there again.