Image by Ed Yourdon
I was somewhat surprised to see this guy leaning against a bicycle stand, propping up his laptop in the bright afternoon sunlight. What could he be doing here, on the east side of Broadway between 80th and 81st Street?
I suppose I could have asked him, but he looked pretty focused on what he was doing … so I looked around for an explanation. Aha, yes, there it was, right behind me: one of the many Starbucks coffeeshops in the neighborhood. Starbucks has a publicly-accessible Wifi network, which most people use indoors (that’s the whole point, obviously: you go inside, buy yourself a ridiculously expensive latte, and then sit there and sip it while you surf the Web). But this guy had figured out that he could access the signal from outside, and was probably too cheap to go indoors and pay for a cup of coffee.
I’m sad to report that his laptop was a Dell computer, rather than a classy Mac Powerbook that I would have preferred to see …
Note: this photo was published in a Jan 22, 2009 blog article entitled "All About Assets." It was also published in an undated blog titled "How Does Spilling Liquid on a Laptop Damage It?", and a May 25, 2009 blog titled "Smartere med Laptop på reisen." More recently, it was published in a Jun 19, 2009 blog titled "Yescalate Brings You Business Information and Customer Reviews." And it was published in a May 19, 2009 ComputerWeekly.com blog titled "Competition: Send us your mobile working snaps!." It was also published in an undated (Oct 2009) blog titled "‘Spin-tronics’ Technology May Cool The Laptop." And it was published in an Aug 6, 2009 blog titled "New York Coffee Shops Hate on Laptops." It was also published in a Dec 14, 2009 blog titled "Why Schedule Appointments Online?"
A couple days later, it was published in a Dec 17, 2009 blog titled "Top 10 Ways to Answer the Question ‘What Do You Do?’" It also showed up, on the same day, in the an article with the same title, in the "Technology" section of the December 17th issue of The New York Times. Not quite as good as getting published on the front page of the newspaper, but I’ll take what I can get… And if that wasn’t enough, it also showed up, on the same day, and with the same title, in a Dec 17th blog posting on Salon‘s website. It was also published in an undated (Dec 2009) Squidoo blog titled "How to Do Just About Everything."
Moving into 2010, the photo was published in a Jan 12, 2010 blog titled "Hiding behind the anonymity of the net." And it was published in a Mar 3, 2010 blog titled "Gables Park 17’s Green Tip of the Week!" It was also published in an Apr 4, 2010 "Amazon Store" blog and an Apr 15, 2010 Tech and Gadget blog, with the same title as the caption that I used on this Flickr page. A horizontally "flipped" version of the photo was also published in an Apr 22, 2010 blog titled "Strona internetowa na temat konsultacji społecznych." It was also published in a May 14, 2010 blog titled "30 Tips for Successful Communication as a Remote Worker." It was also published in a Jul 2, 2010 blog titled "Article Spinning And Article Distribution Services: How To Create 100 Articles From Only One Using Jetspinner ? The Best Article Spinning Tool? Article Spinning, Part 1: What is Article Spinning?." And it was published in an undated (Aug 2010) blog titled "Laptop." It was also published in an Oct 8, 2010 blog titled "Mercado de PCs aumenta en un 56% por fuerte demanda de equipos portátiles." And it was published in an Oct 10, 2010 blog titled "Journalist: Do you list your suitcase?" It was also published in an Oct 30, 2010 blog titled "BUY CHEAP OLYMPUS CAMERAS ONLINE," as well as an Oct 30, 2010 blog titled "Nice Best Tech Gadgets 2009." Seems to me the last blog is about a year behind the times, but I just report what I see… Meanwhile, it was published again in a Nov 2, 2010 blog titled "Thing 11: My Flickr Experience." And it was published in an undated (late Nov 2010) blog titled "Internet porn vacation," as well as a Nov 22, 2010 blog titled "Business travelers want mobile, Expedia picks up Mobiata." It was also published in a Dec 3, 2010 blog with the odd title "Precarious, yes, but he’s protecting his sperm count." And it was published in a Dec 16, 2010 Gawker blog titled Welcome to the Boom Time, Rocket-to-the-Moon Time."
In 2011, the photo was published in a Jan 1, 2011 blog titled "Cheap Computers-Online Stores are a good option." It was also published in a Jan 9, 2011 blog titled "Desktop vs. Laptop." And it was published in a Jan 27, 2011 blog titled "Can I connect my old lap top to my new one to transfer files?" It was also published in a Feb 3, 2011 blog titled "Varför är mobilt bloggande bättre?"
This is part of an evolving photo-project, which will probably continue throughout the summer of 2008, and perhaps beyond: a random collection of "interesting" people in a broad stretch of the Upper West Side of Manhattan — between 72nd Street and 104th Street, especially along Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.
I don’t like to intrude on people’s privacy, so I normally use a telephoto lens in order to photograph them while they’re still 50-100 feet away from me; but that means I have to continue focusing my attention on the people and activities half a block away, rather than on what’s right in front of me.
I’ve also learned that, in many cases, the opportunities for an interesting picture are very fleeting — literally a matter of a couple of seconds, before the person(s) in question move on, turn away, or stop doing whatever was interesting. So I’ve learned to keep the camera switched on (which contradicts my traditional urge to conserve battery power), and not worry so much about zooming in for a perfectly-framed picture … after all, once the digital image is uploaded to my computer, it’s pretty trivial to crop out the parts unrelated to the main subject.
For the most part, I’ve deliberately avoided photographing bums, drunks, drunks, and crazy people. There are a few of them around, and they would certainly create some dramatic pictures; but they generally don’t want to be photographed, and I don’t want to feel like I’m taking advantage of them. I’m still looking for opportunities to take some "sympathetic" pictures of such people, which might inspire others to reach out and help them. We’ll see how it goes …
The only other thing I’ve noticed, thus far, is that while there are lots of interesting people to photograph, there are far, far, *far* more people who are *not* so interesting. They’re probably fine people, and they might even be more interesting than the ones I’ve photographed … but there was just nothing memorable about them.