Cusp

So I am actually helping somebody with the computer today (I mean more than explaining to them how to log on or get prints) and I find myself thinking how interesting it is to be living in the computer age right now.   Why so interesting?  Well let’s see what I’ve got from life so far.

When I was in first grade there was no computer in my classroom, a year later (that would be second grade for those of you who were not sure) there were computers in all the classrooms.  No computers and then everywhere computers.  Now, granted, I am aware that computers had been around for awhile and probably had been in classrooms in other schools prior to my school getting them but that isn’t what interests me, what interests me is the cusp of generation.

Prior to the 1430’s all books were hand written, then along comes this dude named Gutenberg and he’s all like “well fuck, that sure ain’t very efficient.”  Then he goes about being real innovative and makes something called the printing press that can turn out books a lot faster and all the same.  Suddenly we have a world changing event, no longer were books something special kept by monks in monasteries, instead they were become objects of availability.

The computer revolution isn’t quite like this but it isn’t quite unlike either.  Computers existed when my parents were growing up, the military and other organizations had them, but then comes along this great idea of the personal computer, the thought that anybody could have one (just like several hundred years ago when printing meant more people could have books).  Essentially I’ve grown up in an age of computer availability and as such much of my generation has been immersed in computer education.

For individuals like myself I often find I am taking the whole computer thing for granted.  I am not by any means a genius on a computer but I am capable enough to be able to do what I need done.  I sometimes let it slip in my head how common sense it is to me.  But this isn’t so for everyone, in fact there are stills lots and lots of people to whom computers make no sense at all, such as the person I was helping this afternoon.  It is a cusp thing.  A hundred years from now, assuming that society continues to progress along the same lines (no apocalyptic events like zombies, or asteroids, or global warming — well we’ll see about the global warming I guess), everybody in the world will have lived in an age of computers and so the common sense of the machines will likely be much greater.  Already the younger generations are being born into a world where they cannot remember a time without the computer.  Innovation seems to cause a moment of cultural cusp where there is the memory of the prior, the reality of the present, and the prospect of the future.  Cusps of ingenuity are constantly occurring, consider computers themselves, ten years ago we wouldn’t have really been able to imagine the Internet with sites like Facebook or Youtube and now we can’t imagine the Internet without them, we are dealing with real life interpolation here; though we can react to an occurrence in any number of ways the one thing we cannot do is make it so that the occurrence did not occur.

I try to remind myself about this as much as I can because I think it is vital for being effective at my current occupation.  It is easy for me to be shocked by somebody not knowing what the Internet is but then I have to consider the reality of the world, this is still cusp time for computers and all that go with them.  Also, and not trying to sound proud or vain here, I’ve got a pretty good education and computers are a part of the education system these days, some people haven’t got that education yet (and may never decide to get it).  I think of my grandmother’s insistence on using her typewriter even though she owns a perfectly good computer.  Likely there will come a day where my grandchildren are using some technology or another and I’ll be the clueless one and they will be saying “god grandpa it’s so easy.”  My natural response will be “oh yeah you young whipper-snappers?  Well let me tell you about my day, when we had to walk fifteen miles to school, in the snow, and shoes hadn’t been invented yet!”  Of course, because my grandchildren will have a highly reliable evolved version of Wikipedia streaming directly to their brains they will know I am lying, at least about the shoe part (and again considering global warming, could be lies about the snow too). 

~ by Nathaniel on December 5, 2007.

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