Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hello World! - Technical Retardation

Many years ago (1960's) the first Internet message was sent from one computer to another. It said: Hello World! As a computer geek, I have been designing, writing and engineering websites since the early 90's. A lot has changed during my tenure. Do you remember the metallic "hiss" and "boing" of your modem? 15 years I ago I was a guest on a television program  where the advent of the Internet was likened to Alexander Graham Bell's telephone.

One might be tempted to think that with all this technology and science, life would be better. I suppose in some way it is easier, but I am not sure about better. If you have a digital clock or DVD player flashing 12:00, then you know what I am talking about.

Amazingly, advances in communication have always had an impact on civilization. If you have been to the Epcot geo-sphere, you toured the history of communication. From stone writings to hand penned sacred texts - to the Gutenberg press and on to Internet chat and video conferencing - it is really mind boggling. I am sure the display now includes hand-held cellular devices like the the iPhone.

There are some technological advances in the last 50 years that should never have been near the word advances (But this is not an original thought chcek out LIFE magazine).

Cell Phones without keyboard locks - Did anyone think that someone might store this in their back pocket? I mean, even Phillip Morris created Marlboro box packaging. This is so retarded (opposite advanced) that it has caused the term "butt dialed" to be added to the vernacular. And why didn't Flip phones make it? You can even close then with your chin.

Electric Knives -  These beauties were the centerpiece of any 1970's American Thanksgiving Day celebration. The couldn't be sharpened, it took hours to clean stands of meat out from between the blades - all after a number of glasses of Cold Duck. And there was always a strand the was hard as a rock the next year.

Digital Clocks - I don't know about you, but I sweated bullets in second grade learning to use the hands to tell time. In fourth grade I got my first Timex watch and the rest is history. It really irks me that my kids have only had a digital life, and can't even read a real watch. Don't get me going on education and the Y2K hoax!

The Clapper - I'm speechless. My wife would put my lights out if every time I came into a room I "clapped." And if you are applauding your little one's first time on the potty while the lights go out and they start screaming, it's just not the family moment you were hoping for. No wonder they invented a remote for the Clapper!

TV Remotes - No matter how hard you try, there is going to be a search party. Under the couch, in the seat cushions, the laundry basket, behind the TV, or in the bathroom - don't even ask! Our remote is a fan of Lost, and like John Locke, it's dead one week, alive the next, in London a week later, and on the "island" the next. Like Ben, when I find the person who lost it, I want to pound their face in! I get to live my vicariously through the TV set, pressing button after button. Wasn't it easier to just get off the couch and flip the dial?

The Air Bag - Why would you want something to pop-out at 200 MPH to shove your Vuarnets up your nose and break your thumbs when you have an accident at 20 MPH? Good question, don't you think?

The question is really this: What have we gained from the Internet? It is cool for banking, shopping, buying tickets, blogging, Facebooking - and you can even listen to/download my latest worship tunes on MySpace (Praise to the King and My Heart Adores).

As much automation as there is using the Internet and cellular technology, I think we've lost something.We've saved so much time we don't have any left. We used to work 9 to 5 and have an hour for lunch, Now we work 9 to 6 and are lucky to get to the washroom. If you are like me, your life can be a schedule in a daily calendar.

How about you - what is the dumbest invention of your lifetime? Does all this automation make it seem like you have less time?


Anonymous said...

My parents worked at hard labor, but owned their homes (eventually). My grandparents worked at hard labor, but did not own homes. My wife's great grandparent escaped a xenophobic monarchy, and barely survived a starvation diet and backbreaking labor in America, so that their grandkids could have a Wii.

The world literacy rate is over 50%, which means that more than half the world can read the Bible.

The greatest benefit of the internet is the near universal, instantaneous access people have to each other. From my wife's great parents diaries, there is an entry when the two emigrating families said goodbye to their parents and remaining family, knowing that they would never see nor hear from each other again. In the age of the internet, even political prisoners have the hope of communications with family abroad.

The Bible is an example of how a new, untrusted technology transformed society. That new tech was a standardized, written language which could be taught to all. Priest and liety, Kings and commoners, men and women, adults and children.

The internet is also an example of a truely transformational medium. Do people waste time with it? Sure! The first book Gutenburgh printed was a Bible; the second? porn. But the internet allows small businesses in remote locations to advertise themselves and offer their services to the world. To Biblically-metaphorize this, consider Paul's de-linking of the teachings of Rebe Jesuah with Judaism. The internet's providing for a global market is similar to the ecumenical and catholicism of the creation of the religion of Christianity.

So don't dis the net!

- Aw, none of us

David said...

@Aw, none of us - sure, the 'Net is a great way for many to communicate. It does, however; create an impersonal layer to our communications. For the most part (except video conferencing), it removes "nonverbals," voice tone inflection and of course physical touch as doe texting and Facebook messaging, chat, AIM etc.

Here the Wikipedia definition: Nonverbal communication (NVC) is usually understood as the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless messages. i.e, language is not the only source of communication, there are other means also. NVC can be communicated through gestures and touch (Haptic communication), by body language or posture, by facial expression and eye contact. NVC can be communicated through object communication such as clothing, hairstyles or even architecture, symbols and infographics. Speech contains nonverbal elements known as paralanguage, including voice quality, emotion and speaking style, as well as prosodic features such as rhythm, intonation and stress. Dance is also regarded as a nonverbal communication. Likewise, written texts have nonverbal elements such as handwriting style, spatial arrangement of words, or the use of emoticons.

According to, psychology experts believe that as much as 93% of communication is nonverbal!

For commerce and the remote or isolated, the 'Net is a great thing. And so is the spaghetti/noodle cooling fan.

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