Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Unplugged

On my way out of the office last night, I forgot my Blackberry. I managed without it on the commute home because I had my MP3 player and my Kindle. Then on my commute in this morning, the battery on my Kindle died. So I was left with my MP3 player and the view of the Puget Sound out the train window that I wrote my last post about.

I realize I wasn't totally unplugged since I had my music, but it was an odd feeling to be alone with my thoughts for the twenty-some minutes left in my morning commute. As much as I love my Kindle, I had to admit you never have to worry about the battery on a book dying.

So I stared at the water and the different birds feeding a flying about. I think the little ducks are Mergansers. And I saw a hawk and what I believe is a bald eagle. There was even some color in the scenery this morning since part of the cloud cover lifted and you could see blue sky reflected in the normally gray water.

It is hard to imagine a time anymore when we aren't wired to some device. Yet personal computers as we know them only have been around since the early 80s. When I graduated from college and entered the workforce permanently, we still only had typewriters. So we wrote memos instead of e-mail. And blessings of all blessings, our phones were wired to our desks so we couldn't take them with us. There was no voice mail, so phones were answered by receptionists who took a message. We also used flip charts and slide shows instead of PowerPoint presentations.

Even when personal computers began making an appearance, they were clunky things that we shared at work stations. Word functioned more like a typewriter and less like the dashboard of a 747. And Lotus 123 crunched numbers a functional if not fancy way before Excel became the peacock of spreadsheets.

Before we knew it, bulky laptops appeared. And on the music front, cassette tapes began to give way to Cd's. Telephones began to cut their umbilical cords. But they were the size of a walkie talkie and didn't fit in your pocket.

I couldn't even tell you when a PC became standard on every desk. But before I knew it e-mail made an appearance and memos disappeared. Receptionists stopped taking messages and little lights showed up on our phones indicating someone had called. Then screens appeared on the phones and we were able to see who was calling and avoid picking up the receivers altogether.

Finally, someone put in the Information Highway and everyone rushed to jump on this new way of communicating with people half way around the globe without leaving your desk or dialing an annoying number of long distance codes.

Palm Pilots were overgrown by Blackberry's. CD players were eclipsed by iPods which evolved into iPhones. The Androids began to evolve to battle the iPhones and choke the Blackberry's. Lap tops became netbooks and then ditched keyboards altogether to become tablets. People stopped talking on their cell phones and just started talking via Bluetooth earpieces. Then many just stopped talking and began feverishly texting. OMG!

During this evolution film photography went the way of clay tablets. Cameras went digital and then became phones. Computer programs were replaced by software which was replaced by applications and then by Apps. Floppy and hard disks grew thumbs. Then they evaporated into the clouds.

All of this has happened in just about 30 years. It is difficult to fathom what will evolve in the next 30 years. It begins to make Terminator I, II and III seem more plausible. After all, 30 years ago, who would have believed Arnold Schwartzenegger would have become the governor of California.

In all of our advancements electronically, have we lost the ability to just sit and stare out a window? I wouldn't say I have lost the ability to function without being wired in, but it was pretty damned odd not being distracted by anything but the sight of water, boats and birds.

But my Kindle is plugged in and charging. I've been reunited with my Blackberry and I'm connected with my desktop. I only wish I'd have had my phone with me to take a photo of the beautiful views I saw this morning so I could remember them and post them to my Facebook page.

1 comment:

Clara said...

My young house guest is having a difficult time accepting the slow internet speeds of our rural address. She has had some frustration over not being able to download her TV shows. Her phone does not stop buzzing, and when we told her that we don't listen to an ipod in the tractor because we have to listen to the engine to avoid problems, she thought we were crazy.