Most days, I’m firmly in the camp of people who believe that technology makes our lives better. We have access to information in unprecedented ways in human history. And make now doubt about it, information is powerful. It can enrich our lives. In some cases it saves lives. Sometimes, I wonder though, whether we are living richer lives in this age of technology.
I really do count myself lucky to live in the age of information, partly because I can remember when information did not flow as freely as it does today. When I was young, we lived in a small town in the country. It was easily 12 miles to the nearest town and 15 to a town with a movie theater. Our town was so small that we didn’t have a local newspaper, there was one that was geared toward the whole county, but not a local paper. We got most of our news from Baltimore, either in The Evening Sun or on WJZ 13 news. We had two black and white television sets. One had a 13 inch screen and one had a 19 inch screen.
If I wanted to learn about something, I went to the library and scoured an archaic set of drawers called a card catalog. Then I would locate the book on a shelf by the reading a set of codes on the spines of the book which helped me to find that single book in a room full of shelves. Then I would take the book to a counter, and the librarian would stamp a due date in a card that was kept in a pocket pasted to the inside back cover of the book.
If this sounds like something out of the 1950s, well, it is, but this was also my experience in the early 1980s. We got a color TV when they laid cable in our neighborhood, in 1986. When I was in college I did not have an email address. I graduated in 1994.
Contrast that with the lives we lead today. News and entertainment are constant. We receive them on devices that we carry in our pockets. We receive updates from friends via twitter and facebook. We are inundated with information on a minute by minute basis through out our waking hours. Instead of living lives where we interact with people, we are more frequently interacting with devices, online presence, and avatars.
And then there are other aspects of this technology driven life. Last night it snowed about 6 inches where I live. For reasons that are still unclear to me, the state and local authorities in Maryland insist that we don’t get enough snow to warrant adequate snow removal equipment. As a result, a minimal 6 inches of snow can literally shut down the state. So, most school districts are closed today.
When I first started working, there was no real way to work from home and be connected to the office. If you were working from home, you were completely isolated. In contrast, today, I can work from home and its as if I’m in the office. (I just remembered to fire up my softphone for the day.)
As a result, the days of office closures due to inclement weather are no longer a reality for me. As long as I’ve got an internet connection, I can work. This is a blessing and a curse.
Time to make the donuts.