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Friday, April 9, 2010

Technology In My Generation

When calculators came out and replaced the slide rule, some wondered if calculators would replace the need for children to learn math the old fashion way…you know, by cheating.

Then computers became prolific and eventually replaced typewriters. When they added a cool new feature called “Spell Check”, we all thought, hooray! No more spelling rules to try to remember correctly. (Like "i after the e except when it's what? What was that exception? or was it "righty-tighty, lefty...)

We now have a prolific number of tools for communication; cell phones, instant messaging, Facebook, WebCam, Skype, etc. We don't even need to see anyone in person unless we want to. We can have (almost) an entire relationship through an electronic device of some sort.

Technology has allowed all the walls of our community to be flattened and now our community has become world-wide. Being a world-wide community has allowed us to easily connect with different cultures. We usually only recognize the absence of these walls when we are getting technical support and realize the person we are talking to is half way around the world.

I assume the next generation will have even more marvels and wonders exposed over their lifetime. I know that already schools are moving to a more distributed model of teaching so that instructors teach through a PDA, a computer, as well as answer questions through a web-cam. (I have no idea how they take a ruler and slap over the knuckles of the kids, however, but I'm sure fear and intimidation are still buried somewhere in the curriculum.)

Medicine, banking, music, and entertainment are now moving in a distributed model. You can watch the birth of your grandchild coming out in glory while you sit in a recliner a thousand miles away munching on popcorn, thanks to this technology. You can vote for your favorite singer or dancer just by typing in a few digits into a cell phone. (For those of us who grew up with Ma Bell and had only one phone line for the whole town, this change in technology is rather remarkable.)

I believe at some point we will get to the end of this amazing technology revolution. It will probably be when all the early adopters are dead and all that are left are the final adopters. This will be the time when our government officials finally can be elected through a PDA and the government forms that still use blue carbon paper are finally discontinued. When these two things happen, the technical revolution will be over and we can turn our attention to other noble endeavors, like effortless weight loss. Oh, and maybe solve hair loss. I think those two things will open the door to a new set of wonders for the next generation. But if anyone out there is looking for other great problems to add, I would include chin hairs to that list. (Menopause is still a bitch.)

People from the next era will have a whole different set of wonders spanning their life time. With any luck they will never have to diet, they will continue to have a full head of hair, and may never experience hormonal mood swings. It will be another remarkable time in human development.