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Kevin Purdy: Tech Blogger

Get to know a Buffalonian...

Buffalo resident and Rochester ex-pat Kevin Purdy is a senior editor at the technology and productivity website Lifehacker (lifehacker.com), which in 2009 was named one of the “25 Best Blogs” by Time magazine. Not just an authority on all things geek, Purdy is also known for his frequent musings on cooking, a hobby of his.

Which tech/computer product are you looking forward to most in 2010?

The ridiculously cool cell phone that will come out two months after I buy mine. More specifically, I’m intrigued to see if Google’s Chrome OS netbooks, Apple’s iPad, or other not-quite-a-laptops can really make pick-up-and-go computing something everybody needs, or at least wants. Ford’s Sync project, and other in-car control and guidance systems, are right up my alley. I’m the type of guy who always guesses two or three times when it’s time to exit the 33 onto the 90-East or West.

What are your thoughts on net neutrality? How would the Internet change if this policy wasn’t supported?

Time Warner Cable was going to try out metered internet packages in Rochester last year—so many gigabytes per month for so many dollars. The reaction was so amazingly swift and negative, before it even happened, Time Warner actually backed down and apologized. That’s because so much about the net is amazing, and innovative, because you and I and (almost) everybody in the world sees the same thing, almost instantly, and we don’t have to pay more if we want to go back and see it again. If firms start slowing down service to a Google or Hulu because their content attracts a lot of attention, it’s only a short while, I’d hope, before the market corrects that kind of soft blackmail.

Do you believe there’s a point where technology is just a little too integrated into our daily lives? Does the constant flow of instantaneous information take some of the mystery out of life?

Not the mystery, because there’s always more to learn, but the purpose—being there. When your gadgets and connections actively prevent you from learning, making, and achieving whatever it is you actually want to do, that’s when it’s time to detach, or at least set boundaries.

What’s your favorite piece of retro technology or computing?

When I was a kid, my dad had this little brown device he carried around, about the size of today’s larger iPod. It had a speaker on it, and while he was having coffee at home, he’d call into his office, press the speaker against the phone receiver, and after the two buzzed at each other, he’d listen to his voicemail. That’s the first gadget I can remember thinking was really neat. It was also, sadly, an introduction to the inescapable office.

The kitchen seems to play an important role in your life. Is it a nice respite from the digital world?

Absolutely, and it’s a helpful humility tool. The only way you get good at cooking is doing it, failing, and learning. Also, it’s the one area of my life where I never have to hear the phrase “social media.”

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