Thursday, July 12, 2007

Jaded Technocrat

Today I was sipping on a cup of coffee and looking at my mum's "Loc8tor." It's a small device that allows one to attach color-coded RFID tags to objects and track them down. My mum's got it attached to her car keys.

I looked at the slick, silver piece of plastic and its simple direction indicating interface and smiled. I couldn't help it. Fifty years ago, people probably dreamed about something this useful yet advanced. Hell, twenty years ago, people had to have wished they had something like this. I felt like I was living in "The Future," the abstract concept developed by science fiction writers and people thinking about ways to fix the simple problems of their lives.

With technology like this available so readily now, I began to wonder if I were part of the last generation capable of comprehending computer technology as something advanced, capable of not be jaded by its powers and range of use. This isn't to say the majority of people in the Earbud/iPod/Text Generation aren't jaded already, but for a moment, if I think back, I can remember not owning a computer, and I think a lot of my fellows can too if they try. The current generation in utero will not know a world without youTube--not only an internet, but an internet where motion picture is the norm. I remember spending hours waiting for a video of a dancing baby getting hit by a car to download. It was 10 seconds long.

Such thoughts drug me back further. What about electric light? I mentioned the 90's to my nephew the other day (just out of kindergarten); he said everyone in the 90's used candles. Of course his timing was a little off, but the fact remains--what would people who used candles and gas lanterns on a daily basis think of this modern age, where our control of the electric is so skilled that we can talk to other people miles away with little to no wires? Almost nobody alive today, excluding a few exceptions, can remember being alive in a time where the electric light did not burn. Of course there's regions of the world where there is no electric light, but even those people are getting access to cell phones.

I look at the interstate system and jet planes sometimes. Awe captures my attention, and I wonder why transportation is so beautiful. Perhaps it's because someday all these things will be in ruins, and people will look at them and wonder what they were like when they flowed full with the blood of civilization. Maybe that will keep the young from being jaded; the thought that one day, all this has to go away. There is no if, there is only when. Someday, this universe will shut us down--it's our time to leave a testament of what we did with it, something we've already done with the wire and the rock.


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