Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Laptop Who Came to Dinner | The New York Observer:

Eleanna, a 27-year-old artist who lives in Williamsburg, was at a dinner party at her friend Matt’s house the other night when an extra guest suddenly appeared. “We were sitting around eating appetizers and drinking wine,” Eleanna said. “Then we somehow started having an argument about yams and sweet potatoes. As in, ‘Is a yam a sweet potato?’ And Matt was like, ‘That’s it, I’m going online.’ So we all crowded around his computer and learned that yams were not sweet potatoes. This was like, the evening’s entertainment.” Once the laptop was out, there was no extinguishing its cold LCD glare. “I think we started arguing about what to play next on iTunes after that,” Eleanna said.

Somewhere between Facebook and YouTube, the notebook computer became so essential to our lives that we began inviting it to dinner. It came quietly, ingratiating itself into the social ritual with such ease that we barely noticed. Until one night, halfway through the main course, seven dinner companions were suddenly crowded around our unassuming little MacBook watching “Dick in a Box.” What had happened? Once merely a guest, Mr. Laptop had become the guest: the know-it-all who could produce, in an instant, any funny thing that another attendee had read or seen in the previous week, saving that person the trouble of actually explaining it. Not to mention settling pressing intellectual disputes such as, “Who was the bassist in Jem and the Holograms?”