The Next Generation Communicator, by Wrather
The TNG communicator represented a giant step forward from the proto flip-phones of TOS. With the lightest of taps, the shiny starfleet insignia worn on the left breast of TNG uniforms (like a law enforcement badge) could query information, perform tasks, and instantly connect connect its user with any other person in the galaxy. Oh, and it was a GPS (G = Galactic, not Global) tracker as well.
It was like Google, Skype, Wolfram Alpha and the singularity all rolled into one. Admit it: you wanted one. I know I did. And if I’d had one, I would have probably tapped it with about the level of compulsion I hit Command-L in Firefox to surf the internet, perform searches, and send email. Or Command-K for Searches. Or Command-Space for Quicksilver. (Actually, this seems to be a big sumbling block for technology at the moment: There are too many communicators.)
As a child, I bought a replica commuincator pin at one of the several Star Trek conventions I attended as a barely-pubescent child who hadn’t yet discovered girls. It was heavy, it was shiny, it required not one but two fasteners to keep it on your shirt, and it was, once I had it in my eager hands, an untter disappointment.
Why? It was silent. It didn’t emit the distinctive chirp that signalled that you were connected. I don’t know what I was expecting. The thing didn’t even have batteries.
The sound that I had heard on TV and longed to hear from my own communicator minimal and efficient. It conveyed chirpy optimism. It symbolized connection (it was like a higher-pitched version of the “hailing frequencies open” sound). It was definitively electronic, and promised access to a vast wealth of computer knowledge. And the lack of it—the terrifying experience of finding oneself out of range, unable to call for help or be transported from danger—was a narrative sign that Something Had Gone Horribly Wrong.
Maybe, just maybe, I had some half-formed incohate hope that my communicator would emit that rapid series of beeps and squawks which would signal the end of my boring life on earth and the beginning of interplanetary adventure. Wrather out.