The amazing technology we wow at today is crud compared to what’s coming. How do I know?
Evidence 1: This is a calculator adding machine Arithmometre in 1887.
100 years later, we have the pocket calculator. Further down the line, we have calculators in most devices. (What did we have before the Arithmometre? Some people called it a brain, but that wasn’t good because we had to charge it overnight so that it could work well the next day.)
But this time, major innovations will take less than 100 years. At this rate, digital technology is going to enhance into unimaginable dimensions faster than ever. You couldn’t tell a person 15 years ago that a day would come when she could fit 1,000 songs into a device the size of her hand.
Here’s a nice idea to follow from this. If everyone uses these new devices and innovations, then we will have more in common and might understand one another better, right? On Jen’s latest post about Netspeak and the discussion of the generation gap, I commented that despite the equalising forces of technology, older and younger generations will still remain distant and have a hard time relating to each other. Let’s say we don’t want to judge now since baby boomers did not grow up with the Internet. What if we started judging with the generations that were born into the age of the Internet?
I hold firm to the belief that the gaps between generations will not close regardless of equalising technology. I did not know about the Internet until I was 10. When I moved to another country at that age, I could not keep in touch with my friends because none of them had email addresses yet. 13 years later, the Internet is like my third arm, but I can still appreciate what it has to offer me possibly better than a younger person who did not have to go through that kind of separation.
Anytime some new gadget or digital innovation enters the market, I sigh wishing it had come out sooner and have this vision of what I’ll be telling my grandkids about “the olden days” which they did not have to “suffer”.
Grandkid 1: You mean you would carry around those “CDs” to listen to music?
Grandkid 2: That’s so dumb. Why couldn’t you just download it into your brain chip?
Old Esma: It wasn’t so bad. When mp3 players came out, I could download music from the Internet onto my personal computer, plug the mp3 into the USB port and transfer the music file into the device.
Grandkid 2: But you still had to carry the device?
Old Esma: Yes, and I had to carry earphones as well.
Grandkid 1: You mean the United States of Apple didn’t surgically stitch them to your ears at birth? Grandma, you lived in really scary times.
The generations have their distance when it comes to the Internet, but how far apart are they? Pew Internet research gives us the 2009 stats.
Do you believe technology that is easy to use by all will close the generation gap?