Technology: Solving Problems We Didn’t Know We Had

ktdesignboom01One of the great things about writing about the impact of technology on law and society is that there is a seemingly endless supply of innovations that address problems that we didn’t know we had. Often, as we’ll see, these innovations employ creative interpretations of existing law to justify their existence (or at least their ability to be manufactured and purchased).

More than one hundred and sixty years ago, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow crafted a gloomy poem that explains the inspiration for one new invention that I came across this morning:

The Rainy Day

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

Think how much more depressed Longfellow would have been had if he had been trying to text friends and update Facebook in such lousy weather. An equally depressing question, of course, is whether Longfellow would ever have gotten around to writing such beautiful verse in an era of social media, but hey, one problem at a time.

Designboom, an Italian design firm, poses the question “rain impeding your texting?,” and in the same breath, answers it: “try the phone-brella by kt design.” The phone-brella replaces the normal curved or straight umbrella handle with a C shape that frees up a cellphone user’s hands. As you can see from the photo above, the phone-brella can rest on a person’s forearm and shoulder, make it possible to text while still staying dry.

We may not be able to prevent the rain from falling, but at least we can tweet about it without getting wet.

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