One of the unintended consequences of having my iPod is that I find myself quite a bit more willing to work outside the office. Having my Clie and Vaio also help, as does the fact that my work is almost entirely cerebral and literary. And I’m not unfamiliar with working in odd places: when I was at Berkeley I did 80% of my best work at Cafe Milano (the best cafe in the world) and the Bison Brewery (the best pub in the world); and these days I do a fair amount of writing in the car, on nap drives.
But the fact that I can now carry my entire music collection, and in any place can listen to anything from Dexter Gordon’s “The Other Side of Round Midnight” to Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat,” makes me think I can settle in more deeply at a table at Barrone, and get some serious work done. It’s not logical, but it makes me wonder: what’s it going to be like in a few years when I can carry around (or access wirelessly) absolutely every Web page I’ve ever looked at, every document I’ve downloaded or written, etc., etc.? I think it’s going to have a profound effect on how knowledge workers go about their days, and the texture of intellectual work more generally. I don’t yet know what it will be like, but I know to keep an eye out for it.