Ok, this week's topic is easy. For our anniversary, my lovely, wonderful, awesome wife got me a big honking Android phone. (Not that electronics are on the traditional anniversary gift list, but that's ok) I have been keeping an eye on technology trends and have been fully aware of the capacity of our newer smartphones, but to actually hold one and work it takes me back to so many memories. Looking at those green tinted monstrosities that were the Apple IIe's our school had, being amazed at how much smaller and whiter the Apple IIc's they updated to a few years later were. Standing in front of the display NES at WalMart watching those pixelated plumbers jump on walking mushrooms. Hearing that grating sound as the dial up modem inside that new Windows XP tower (yes it took a while to get online out in the boondocks, so shoot me). This little rectangle has more computing and connectivity power than anything that wasn't science fiction back when I was typing funny little BASIC programs that would print faces made out of X's on those big green screens. It has more storage than even Bill Gates thought the whole world would ever need a few years back. There is a disturbing amount of power, numerous kinds, in these tiny Pandora's boxes.
Yep, that's the right reference. With video, pictures, texting, internet access, cloud access, social networks all in the palm of our hands, there is great potential for good and evil. It's easy to shoot a video, intentionally or unintentionally take it out of it's context, and cause a huge firestorm around the world. It's easy to send off an angry comment and have it come back to bite you in the butt, possibly socially, possibly in your employment, even legally. But that's only part of the possible issue. How easy is it to sit and stare at that screen instead of paying attention to those immediately around you? (Very, I've figured out already) Technology has taken us to levels of world community that weren't even imagined a couple of generations ago.
All of this wonderful technology is a tool, much like a hammer. A hammer can be used to build a home for a family or a toy for a child, but it can also be used to tear down a home, break a toy, or even kill a person. What is done with any tool is up to the person wielding it. Many revolutions going on in the world, some we hear about, others not so much, are working across all of these unprecedented levels of technology. Some of those revolutions are good, some not so much. In other cases, people are simply being distracted from real life by their toys, ignoring the things around them that are affecting them and the world.
I''m no Unabomber, I love technology, nor do I think we need to burn all the video games and their developers. Having this new toy in hand is just a reminder to put it down occasionally, engage in some face to face conversation, read a real newspaper sometimes, dust off some of those books on the shelf.
No, I'm not posting this from the phone, going to take a while before I'm that used to the keyboard (if ever). Nothing wrong with that, right?