Departure checklist

As I was preparing this morning for a couple of conferences, I took a moment to reflect on how my departure checklist has changed. Things that used to matter a lot -- plane tickets, cash -- seem unimportant. But the things that grant access to those things -- ID cards -- matter more than ever. The dependency on my driver's license, in particular, has become a growing concern. I have no backup for this document and, given the quaintly intermittent schedule of DMV offices, no quick way to replace it. You might think that when credentials do finally go digital, they'll be easier to replace. But in fact, identify providers will (or should) still require a face-to-face ceremony. This doesn't get any easier until, perhaps, we start asserting our identities using nature's digital signature -- our DNA.

New gadgets have also made my departure checklist a lot longer than it used to be. It's not just the gadgets themselves that I worry about, but all the cables and batteries and chargers and headsets that go with them. After we standardize the software world around XML, maybe we can do something about all this crazy one-of-a-kind paraphernalia?

To simplify a little, I'm ditching the camera on this trip -- along with its charger, the power cord and connector cable that go with it, and the two different cables needed to take video and stills out of the camera. Part of the rationale is that, at events thick with digicam-toting digerati, I know lots of pictures will be taken, posted, and made easily accessible by way of blogging and social tagging.

Taking pictures of other people has always been a powerful act. In my teens, as a 35mm photographer with a darkroom, I loved taking candid photos of people in public places, but it also made me feel uncomfortable -- and that was long before it became trivial to publish such photos online. Nowadays, in a one-on-one situation, I ask permission. But you can't ask permission of a group, and we seem to have a tacit agreement that it's OK for people to post shots of groups taken at conferences.

Push this collaborative surveillance one step further, and nobody needs to bring a camera because the environment itself will record everything. Would you be willing to attend an event under those circumstances?

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