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Computers without constraints

Leading psychologist on how laptops allow us to roam

By Steven Pinker for CNN

Steven Pinker
Pinker: "My students don't even know I'm gone."
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(CNN) -- I have had laptop computers since 1985 and as they have become more powerful they have freed me from the constraints of location.

I have two homes and an office, and travel to give lectures almost every week.

Yet with my laptop computer and periodic Internet refuelings, I can continue to work the whole time as if I was chained to a desk.

I open my laptop in the taxi and close it only during takeoff and landing.

I write books and papers, prepare lectures, do administrative tasks, and keep up with correspondence, so my students and colleagues don't even know I'm gone.

When I want to relax I have my entire music collection with me, or can indulge in my hobby, photography, by doing digital darkroom work.

Then when I get home I resume my real life immediately, as if I had ever been away.

Without a laptop freeing me to travel, I would not see nearly as many places, meet nearly as many people, or be exposed to nearly as many new ideas.

-- Steven Pinker is Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and author of The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, Words and Rules, and The Blank Slate.


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