Living in an Amish paradise

Here is a great Howard Rheingold article from the Wired Magazine archives about Amish in the US and their unique approach to using various technologies in their day-to-day lives:

Look who’s talking

I first read this back in the late ’90s (when, I admit, I was a bit of a Wired fanboy) and the criteria for what technology they adopt vs. shun has stuck in my head:

“Does it bring us together or draw us apart?”

You can agree or disagree with their view of the world, but I don’t think you can fault them for having a values-based way of making decisions about this sort of thing.

I like the idea of being in control of the technology you use rather than the other way around.

(Did I mention that I still haven’t upgraded to Leopard yet? ;-)

Think about this in terms of the technologies you use:

  • Are you in control of your TV?
  • Are you in control of your inbox?
  • Are you in control of your mobile phone?

If you answered ‘yes’ to that last question, do you take your phone with you to face-to-face meetings? And if so, do you answer it when it rings?

(By the way, before I get too self-righteous, I’ll be the first to admit that occasionally I do take my phone to meetings, as rude as that is, and my inbox consumes far too much of the time that could be better spent with family and friends.)

Is your use of all of these technologies mindful, or did you just fall into it?

What criteria do you use to decide when to start using a new technology?

Sometimes, I reckon, it’s good to step back and think about these things.

With this in mind, I wonder what the Amish make of blogs?

Like wearing a shirt with buttons, I suspect they would consider writing a blog much too “prideful”.


One thought on “Living in an Amish paradise”

  1. Hmmm, interesting thoughts re: technology being in control of us.

    I remember seeing a tv interview years back with the leader of an Amish village. He explained why they had a telephone box way down the end of their village street. The logic being it was there if it was needed, but if it rang during dinner for example, it wouldn’t disturb them. That’s a pretty cool boundary to have in place. Don’t know if i’d cope!

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