Independence Day (from the grid, that is)

My town is on fire and the power is out. So why am I still working?

The reason I wonder about this is that cell phones and laptops put all the control in your hands. With a cell phone, for example, you can turn it on, turn it off, make it ring silently, set it to phone only (if you won't want text messages, e-mail and calendar reminders bugging you) and screen calls with caller ID.

I use Gmail nowadays and set it up with filters that forward important mail to my BlackBerry, which, of course, rings when it arrives. My BlackBerry calendar application syncs with Google Calendar. If I think of something I have to do while I'm wandering around town or eating at a restaurant, I can just do it if it's a minor thing, or put it on my calendar or to-do list using voice commands.

If my phone doesn't ring, I don't have to worry about anything. If something is on my mind, I can take care of it or make a note of it.

This "hyperconnectivity" lifts, rather than creates, burdens. Gadgets with antennas and batteries provide independence from devices that don't function unless they're plugged into a wall outlet - not to mention independence from walls in general.

Besides, you never know when disaster will strike. If it's not fires, it could be earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, snowstorms, floods or just power outages that strike for reasons unrelated to disasters.

So regardless of whether you're a "digital nomad," or a business traveler, whether you live in a disaster-prone area or not, why not make your own "declaration of independence" and set yourself up with the right phone, software, data plan, long battery-life laptops and other devices so you're ready at any time to do whatever you want do to, and go wherever you want to go.

Mike Elgan writes about technology and global tech culture. Contact Mike at or his blog, .

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