Paris, France

August 25, 2019

The Best Office in the World

I'm writing you this week from the most enviable office imaginable - a bench on the banks of the Seine, on a warm, sunny summer day in Paris.

The sky spreads out above me, that kind of pastel blue that Van Gogh adored - dotted and scraped with puffs of white.

Tourists churn across Pont des Arts, staggered, caught between stopping for the view and the drive to see everything before they're gone.

To the right, cars and motos crawl across Pont du Carrousel, and the Eiffel Tower pokes her head above the roofline, wondering what I'm doing all the way over here.

What I'm doing - is typing. But I don't have a computer with me. Or a screen in front of me. Or a mouse.

Sitting on my lap, perched under my fingertips is a tiny, folding keyboard. It weighs less than a pack of cards, and folds down smaller than my phone. But it's a real, full-size keyboard.

But while I'm typing, I'm looking. At the water in front of me. The bridges. The runners. The boats. I'm looking around, listening, smelling, hearing. All the while, like magic, my fingers flick words down into the phone in my bag, saving them up to send to you.

And it feels - honestly - like the future.

My weird life straddles two worlds that don't talk to each other much - cutting edge tech and analog, physical and written art. And maybe because of that, five or six times a year, I have the same conversation with diffferent people, in different countries somewhere on the Earth.

It goes something like this:

"Ugh. Phones suck, because people just walk around staring at them instead of engaging with the world, their friends, the people around them, anything. Did you read that article about where phones are making us go blind/ruining our backs/leading to social isolation/getting us hit by buses?"

My reply hasn't changed all that much over the years.

I talk about how people are making rational choices, and about the connection to meaning that phones give to us through a magical little window - no matter the distance. About yes, the addictive nature of things like facebook that are super not cool and not good for us.

But also that things aren't done yet.

Nobody wants to walk around staring at a phone. It's just the best we have today - and here, riverboats floating by, summer breeze washing across me, I'm reminded of the future we really want: no screen, no tiny keyboard, able to be present with the world washing over us - and still be connected to all of the people and things we care about, near and far.

And if this moment is anything like what the future is really gonna be like, I gotta tell you - it's pretty nice. :)

Have a futuristic week,

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I saw all week was this hilarious and enthralling look at the first accurate map of France- and the family that created it over four generations.

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