Kage Baker was entertained by the proliferation of e-culture.
Not so much the etiquette of how to use electronics – though that has been proliferating as well. There are acceptable, mainstream and also rogue and outlaw ways to use one’s personal electronics these days, and they all say something socially relevant about one as a user. A Bluetooth in your ear means several things, depending on the prejudices of the viewer; so do headphones, and now GoogleGlasses. And there are correct or absurd ways to use them, which reveal precisely where you stand on the “bourgeois to hipster” scale.
What intrigued Kage was mostly what was and was not cool to possess. Because possession is a state incredibly finely-tuned to what is cool. Kage, a born collector, knew that in her bones.
All the cool toys and accessories I have are due to Kage: except my beloved Kindle. I bought that one because of my own life-long habit of diving into books when I was traumatized; so in a way, Kage is responsible for that as well … but everything else was her, without argument. Because I have no real taste at all. Kage’s taste evaluation was exquisite, even though she usually declined to participate: considering abstinence from fashion to be the true fashion.
I don’t really know what any of the new social cues and displays are. I’ve never cared; and I have been notoriously bad my entire life about how to use same. For example, I wear round steel glass frames because I still love John Lennon – but these days, I get approving remarks based on their being retro hippie, 40’s chic, and even industrial art. I think Blueteeth (Bluetooths? Who the hell knows?) are elegant because they look like Star Trek communications sets: but evidently they are no longer acceptable fashion, being instead a sign of middle class coolth lag.
There must be classy ways to wear one’s smart phone, but I don’t know what they are: mine just sits in a purse pocket until I need it. I suspect that the fashionable choice is to never set the thing down at all, since most users I see clutch them constantly, like pilgrims’ talismans. Tablets and various shape-shifting half-sized laptops are carried in sleeves, mostly with no straps or handles so you grapple them to you like a diplomatic pouch at all times – my Buke lives in a small wooden case. Covered in travel stickers. With a handle.
My one concession to sheer beauty is my Kindle cover. It’s leather, hand-tooled by Oberon Design (http://oberondesign.com/). That is because I have adored their work through all my decades of working Renaissance Faires, and when I needed a cover for my e-book, I turned once more to an old love. I’d like to claim my innate taste – but I don’t actually have any.
All the taste in our household was due to Kage. She had an innate elegance, a recognition of what was cool. Not necessarily popular – she scorned popular subjects, usually; sometimes it delayed her enjoyment of things she later turned out to like, because she had rejected anything that had more than a couple hundred fans. She prided herself on liking things before they were cool, and equally as much on refusing things that were widely noticed … she said that if trendy things were really good, they’d last until she felt comfortable enough to give them a try.
She wore Converse Hi-Tops into her 30’s, until they suddenly became haute couture again. Then she rejected them for plain white Chuck Taylor boating shoes, with as little trim as physically possible. I found more than a dozen pair of them in her closet after she died. She loved tapes and CDs as they came around, but never, ever stopped buying vinyl as “backup”; if an album she wanted was pressed, she found and treasured it. Now, of course, vinyl is the hippest option once again; and Kage’s cherished turntable is now a bottom of the line model. Still works just fine, though.
She had Beatles albums that would reduce a hipster collector to tears. Including the infamous “Butcher Cover”.
In the meantime, I slog along in my special reverse arrogance, deliberately not finding out what is cool and what is not. I have long held firmly to the concept that I am, myself, so au courant that whatever I do is appropriate. If I’m wrong, I rarely find out. And it gives me tremendous self-confidence and increases my chances of success. I think it comes under the “dazzle ’em with bullshit” heading …
My current alien artifact is hashtags. What the hell are they for, and how do you use ’em? I have no idea. I don’t really care. I’m getting along without them so far, and will probably continue to do so as my loyal minions multiply; though they’ve a long way to go to match my peerless Dear Readers.
Still, there are 11 of you now. And I, at least, think that’s cool enough.