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Doug Robinson: Now, it's all about your 'app'-titude

Published: Tuesday, March 20 2012 12:23 a.m. MDT

Recently, I used the word "app" in a sentence, which surprised me. Sort of like the first time I took the word "caucus" for a spin. Since then, I have said app many times, apparently correctly because nobody laughed.

I believe congratulations are in order from the over-40 set.

Yes, I'm arriving late to the parade. So sue me. I'm always running behind the times, to quote a Joni Mitchell line. I resisted the cellphone until a few years ago. You know what awful thing happened to me after that — texting. Then came the next electronic wave.

As nearly as I can recall, I woke up one morning and everyone was saying app.

Is there an app for that? Is that app free? Have you been to the app store?

People are apt to say app at any moment.

(I hadn't been this surprised since I suddenly realized one day that auto racing was a big spectator sport again. When did that happen?)

The iPhone was a birthday present. It came in a pristine white box that looked like something worthy of holding the Hope Diamond or a Faberge egg. I refused to open it for a week. It sat in the iCloset in our iHouse, its iBox still wrapped in iCellophane. I circled it a few times and kept on going.

Was this really something for the inner iMe?

Once I opened it, it would be like falling through the rabbit hole — there was no going back and weird things could happen to me (such as using apps in normal conversation). Once I pushed the on button, I wouldn't be able to survive without this thing I hadn't needed my entire life, like the cellphone, cable TV and Seinfeld reruns. (Last fall I wrote about my friend Bruce Wilson, who still doesn't own a cellphone; he is my hero. He often communicates with people by — you'll laugh — talking to them face to face.)

I am proud to say that my iPhone is a 16G model.

I don't know what that means.

App that.

I only mention this because people like to stand around and talk about these things. Instead of bragging about the engine in their car, the way they used to, now men boast about their iPhones.

She's got 80,000 gigabytes under the hood.

Gigabytes, mosquitobytes, whatever.

Supposedly my iPhone has a lot of "space." Galaxies of it. A couple of electronic acres worth, to switch metaphors. You could store the Library of Congress in there and still have enough room for LeBron James' ego (but not Oprah's).

The salesman says it does everything. You can talk to it and it will talk back, like teenagers, only without all the "likes" and "you knows." You can ask questions and it will answer. It can tell you where to go (sometimes I'd like to tell it where to go). For all I know it can fly a 747 and cook a soufflé while announcing what's playing at the Cineplex and how to get there. Did I mention that it gives directions and you can follow along on a map?

But you know all this. For most people, it's like I just discovered radio.

Yesterday, I joined the iCloud. I can store stuff in there, like my iColumn. If I were really patient, I could write my column on my phone and email it. This for a guy who used to type his stories on a nifty IBM Selectric (these were called typewriters, kids) — after I wrote them in longhand on the side of a cave.

The iPhone does so many things that a night class is offered to teach the how-to's (I'll bet they app a lot in there).

So it is with some trepidation that I enter the smartphone era. Will I be one of those guys whose head is always bowed as if deep in prayer, at the altar of the touch screen? Will I soon be playing Words With Friends (Who Are Miles Away), while ignoring the person next to me? Will I be addicted to emails and texts and surfing the web? Will I be one of those idiots who surfs the Internet while weaving on the highway?

Here's what I think is going to happen: Our brains are going to atrophy because we won't use them as much; smartphones will do a lot of our thinking for us. Smart phones, Dumb People.

When my wife was purchasing the iPhone, she told the salesman, "My husband doesn't think he needs one, so he might not keep it."

"Once he gets it," he replied, "he won't be able to get by without it."

That's what I'm afraid of. Anyone for a game of Hanging With Friends?

Email: drob@desnews.com

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