Episode 18: Tears and Swaddles

WiRL-icon The newest episode of Writing in Real Life is live!

Morgan goes on a book-buying binge. Barry gets depressed by how people buy things. When do you re-read a book in lieu of reading a new one? Should you have rules for your reading life? Accounting for every second of every day in your book. Too many damn books. How a biased critique partner is useful. Our absolute best advice to new parents.

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Obsolete Information

For no particular reason at all, today I found myself thinking about the future. Specifically, about phone numbers.

I was looking at my daughter and imagining her several years hence, when she gets her first iPhone (or whatever gadget has replaced it by then). And I thought about how the persistence of memory in our gadgets and the rudimentary artificial intelligences that power them have made the knowing of certain bits of information an obsolete practice.

If you’re my age or older (do they get older???), then you probably still remember a few key phone numbers. I remember my mother’s (it hasn’t changed in more than thirty years) and — for some reason — the very first phone number I ever had. But I can’t remember my wife’s for the life of me, mainly because I never had to learn it. I entered it into my address book once and it populated across all of my devices. When I need to call her, I tap her name or tell Siri.

The same is true of email addresses. And Twitter handles. We know people by their names and our gadgets remember the rest for us.

“We know all of this, Barry,” you’re saying, rolling your eyes at my early onset senility. But, no — I told you that so that I could tell you this:

Right now, if you meet someone and want their contact information, you request it and they give it to you. You then dutifully enter it into a database1 and never think about it again.

This seems like an outrageously simple procedure, but why shouldn’t it be simpler?

Again, envisioning the future my daughter will live in: She’s ten years old and has just received her Apple Necklace, a stylish choker that — through Siri 10.0 — can respond to her subvocal commands and communicate to her and her alone via signals that travel up her neck and along her jawbone to vibrate her eardrums. There’s no interface — she doesn’t need an interface. She talks to it, and it responds.

She wants to be able to call or text her grandmother or send photos from the Bluetooth-linked eyepiece she’s getting for her birthday, so she needs to enter Gramma’s contact info.

Or does she?

Because the next time she’s in proximity to my mother, she can just tell Siri, “That’s my Gramma.” And Siri will link up with my mom’s gadgets and the two will quickly hand off information. In the blink of an eye, my daughter’s Necklace creates a contact — Gramma — and populates it with all of the contact info in my mom’s gadget.

When my daughter wants to talk or text or otherwise communicate with her grandmother, all she does is tell Siri, “Call Gramma” or “Tell Gramma I can’t wait to see her.”

The distinction between phone call and text and email is an artificial one that exists mostly because of the different evolutions of the technologies. As time and technology progress, though, there’s no need to think, “I want to contact Person X. What’s the best way to do that?” Let the tech handle it. The tech will figure out the best way to contact Person X at that particular time and just take it from there. And, furthermore, let the tech set up the contact info in the first place. It’s not a question of “In the future, will you remember anyone’s phone number?”

It’s more like, “In the future, will you ever know anyone’s phone number in the first place?”


  1. You may not think of it as a database, but that’s exactly what your contacts list is.

My First Periscope

So, I streamed my first Periscope earlier today…and man oh man, that’s a sentence I never imagined typing even a month ago!

You’re supposed to watch (and interact) with ‘scopes live, but the stream is archived over at the Where I Write page. You can check it out below or here.

I learned some things about Periscope on this first outing, some of which are my fault, some of which are problems with the app/service. In the interests of blathering on, here they are:

  1. For reasons I don’t understand, the microphone cuts out when you swap cameras. I’m not sure why. Only the image should be changing, not the audio. As a result, there are some words cut off in the video. Given that switching back and forth is probably a pretty common thing, given the nature of Periscope, the developers should work on providing a constant audio stream, no matter which camera you’re using. In the future, I’ll pause when I flip cameras.
  2. Double-tapping the screen to swap cameras doesn’t seem to work. Or at least, it didn’t for me. I had to wait for the UI to change and then tap the swap button instead. Maybe I was tapping wrong or something, but I feel like it’s tough to screw up a double-tap.
  3. Speaking of cameras… There should be an option to choose your camera before you start streaming. If you want to begin the stream on yourself, there’s no way to do that. You have to start with the back camera and then flip cameras. Ugh.
  4. Questions from viewers disappear way too quickly. I honestly thought no one was asking any questions, but it turns out they were — they just flew by so fast I didn’t see them. Maybe there should be an option to have questions persist until dismissed by a tap, or maybe they just linger a little longer.
  5. Vertical video sucks. Seriously. It’s 2015, people. Let us rotate the camera. Gross.


Episode 17: Where Do You Want to Take Your Readers Next?

WiRL-icon The newest episode of Writing in Real Life is live!

Morgan gets promoted. Where the heck are our listeners coming from? First time letting someone else put Leia to bed! Babies as small-talk assistants. “Where do you want to take your readers next?” Morgan gets Biblical. Going to a wedding as a married couple. The necessity of patience for parents, spouses, and writers. Barry finishes writing his book.

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Paul Griffin Talks about Adrift

Adrift by Paul GriffinSo, I’ve been telling you all about Adrift, Paul Griffin’s amazing new novel, for a while now. Well, here’s your opportunity to hear about it from the horse’s mouth, courtesy of a special online preview.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to embed the video here, so you’ll need to do the hard work of clicking on the screenshot below, choosing the “Teen” video, and then scrubbing ahead to 6:19. Paul’s editor introduces him and then you can hear about the book from the man himself!


Remember, you can preorder Adrift now: