M38-Unwired-Desk-figure-G

I had accumulated too many devices. There were 16 on my desktop: three printers, a scanner, three monitors, two mice, two keyboards, two speakers, two desk lamps, and an electric pencil sharpener.

Finding space for everything wasn’t a problem: I simply acquired a bigger desk.

The wires were the problem. Most of the devices required AC power, and many were also connected to one of two computers that sat on the floor. Each new acquisition added to a horrible, undisciplined tangle of wires, and also made me feel less inclined to untangle it — until I realized that it was preventing me from vacuuming some areas of the carpet. Breadcrumbs, fragments of orange peel, and a couple of dead crickets were down there. It was ugly.

Steve Jobs seems to have been obsessive-compulsive about wires. He minimized them by building a computer into the same enclosure as a monitor, and developing keyboards and mice that connected wirelessly. But even if I migrated to an iMac, I would still have printers and lamps and, yes, the electric pencil sharpener, and a tendency to accumulate more gadgets in the future. Plus, I don’t really like wireless connections, because they require batteries, which will probably die precisely when I absolutely, positively have to meet a deadline. Will I be provident enough to keep spare batteries in stock? Probably not.

I decided I had to get serious about becoming unwired (or at least, hiding the wires) in my own way.