I wrote this a while ago, after seeing two articles in two days ragging on fitness tracking devices, and suggesting that they’re bad for you. Both articles warn against outsourcing your intuitive sense of “how you are” to some device. And, sure, I guess you can do that. But if you actually are doing that, I’d suggest that what you have isn’t a harmful device. What you have is a device disorder.

I was going to make an even stronger statement along these lines, comparing a device disorder to an eating disorder. I think the comparison is valid, even though, upon reflection, it weakens my argument. Sure, some people have an eating disorder. But anybody is likely to engage in disordered eating when they eat industrially produced edible food-like substances. Maybe that’s a fair comparison with industrially produced fitness-tracking devices. Unlike with industrial food though, I think the data from fitness trackers can be consumed safely.

“… sometimes I would wake up in the morning and check my app to see how I slept — instead of just taking a moment to notice that I was still tired…”

Source: Opinion | Even the Best Smartwatch Might Be Bad for Your Brain – The New York Times

I get this, because I joke about this myself. My brother will ask how I slept, and I’ll say, “I’m not sure—I haven’t checked with my Oura ring yet.” Or I’ll say something like, “My ring and I agree that I slept well last night!” But I’m just joking. I know how I slept, I know how recovered I am from the recent days’ activities, and how ready I am to take on a physical or mental challenge.

My Oura ring

That doesn’t make the data from the Oura ring useless. My intuitive sense of how I am isn’t perfect. Many’s the time I’ve let wishful thinking convince me that I’m ready for a long run or a tough workout not because I really am, but because the weather is especially nice that day and the next few days are forecast to be cold or rainy. Or because I have some free time that day and the next few days are going to be busy. My Oura ring has been a useful counterbalance to that. If I had a hard lifting session yesterday, but I feel great today and my heart rate lowered early last night, maybe I am really ready for a long run today. On the other hand, if my heart rate took the whole night to get down to its minimum, and its minimum was higher than usual, that’s a good sign that I’m not fully recovered, even if I’m feeling pretty good.

If you have an eating disorder, do your best to avoid triggers that lead to disordered eating. Similarly, if you have a device disorder, it makes good sense to avoid using whatever sort of devices lead to disordered behavior. But that doesn’t make the devices bad, any more than eating disorders make food bad. But any particular device might be bad for you, just like any particular food might be bad for you. (And, I admit, industrially produced edible substances are probably bad for everybody.)

Cover of August 2011 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction

Cover of August 2011 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction
Cover of August 2011 Asimov’s Science Fiction. Cover art by Jeroen Advocaat.

“Watch Bees” is in Asimov’s Science Fiction, August 2011, Vol. 35, No. 8, edited by Sheila Williams.

Picking his way through morning glory vines, over rolling chunks of old pavement, David made his way to the edge of the ditch. Kneeling down, he got close enough to the dandelions and clover to see that the bees visiting them were striped the distinctive orange-and-black of watch bees.

Looking up, David took in the farm as a whole. The paint on the farmhouse and barn wasn’t fresh, but it wasn’t peeling. The garden was big. The fields grew food, not just biofuel crops. He was six or seven miles from town, having rejected each of the farms he’d passed, but this one looked promising.

Update: “Watch Bees” has been reprinted in the Russian Magazine Esli!

Cover of Redstone Science Fiction, February 2001 (issue #9)

Cover of Redstone Science Fiction, February 2001 (issue #9)Like a Hawk in its Gyre” is up at Redstone Science Fiction, February 2011 (issue #9), edited by Michael Ray.

The bicycle noticed someone was following before Kurt did.  Watching for a tail was a habit he’d finally broken himself of, but not before the bicycle’s impressionable brain had picked it up.  Its low warning hum sent a thrill of adrenalin through him, giving power to the part of his brain that wanted him to sprint away.

Update: “Like a Hawk in its Gyre” has been reprinted in audio form on Escape Pod, read aloud by Tim Crist.

Kovrilo de Beletra Almanako N-ro 8.

Kovrilo de Beletra Almanako N-ro 8.My first Esperanto-language short story “Paŭzo en la stacidomo Union,” appears in the new issue of Beletra Almanako! My contributor’s copy arrived today. I even made the cover.

I am in very good company—a veritable who’s who of current Esperanto literature.

“Tiu,” Emma diris

Otto rigardis kien ŝi kapmontris. “Tiu alta viro en la drelika jako?” Li pripensis. “Filo de riĉaj gepatroj. Eksigita el pli ol unu universitato pro tro da petoloj kaj maltro da studoj. Ricevas iom da mono de la patrino, sed ne sufiĉe por vivteni sin.”

You can get it from Amazon: Beletra Almanako 8 (BA8 – Literaturo en Esperanto) (Esperanto Edition)

Or directly from the publisher.

If you can read Esperanto, pick up a copy today!

An Education of Scars” is up at Futurismic edited by Christopher East (fiction editor) and Paul Raven (publisher and editor-in-chief).

Her gown left her shoulders bare. Her skin was pale, translucent. She had no freckles, as if she had never gone out in the sun. Her lips were colored a shade of red that seemed odd for a red-head to wear, until I noticed that it was the same angry red as her scars.

Cover of Bones of the World, edited by Bruce Holland Rogers“New Song of Old Earth” in the fourth Darkfire anthology Bones of the World: Tales from Time’s End, edited by Bruce Holland Rogers, from SFF Net, 2001, ISBN 0-9669698-4-7. Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or directly from the publisher, SFF Net.

I usually refer to my clients as “the accused.” But, in my own mind, I usually think of them as “the prisoner.” Certainly I thought of Martin Tyo that way, even though he wasn’t, really–he had a cheap room in a hotel near the transit station.

There was no need to put him in a cell. He was already ten years from yesterday. . . .

Cover of The Age of Reason, edited by Kurt Roth“Reading is Fundamental” appears in the second Darkfire anthology The Age of Reason: Stories for a New Millennium, edited by Kurt Roth, from SFF Net, 1999, ISBN 0-9669698-1-2. Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or directly from the publisher, SFF Net.

I’m hiding in the tall weeds behind the compost heap, which is good, because the sergeant looks behind the woodpile before heading to the outhouse. I listen real carefully and am glad to hear the splashing sound of a good piss. That always puts the sergeant in a good mood. If he can start the day with a good piss he’ll usually give me breakfast. Otherwise I sneak away and don’t come back until lunch time. . . .