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Monday, April 23, 2012

Back in My Day, We Had to Post Our Blogs by hand-coded HTML! None of this fancy-schmancy autoposting crap!

A while back, I set up an email list for my mom's side of the family. Mostly it was to maintain a location that I could help keep everyone together so nobody felt like they were being left out of important conversations.

Inevitably, it was used for the "important conversations" for a while.

Then it degenerated into the standard email list that almost all email lists that aren't "business"-related tend to devolve into.

As a result a lot of the emails from the older generation (great-aunts who wistfully gaze upon the golden years of the 1950s as a time of great social awesomeness, uncles who post about how lucky we all are with our PSPs and fancy-schmancy cars and suchlike, and the occasional post from a cousin, niece or nephew about the change in email addresses) float through about how funny it is, living in the modern times.

I can count literally hundreds of emails mocking the current generation for not picking up baloney off the floor and serving it to your kid because that's how you rolled back in the day.

Weird thing is, I'm doing it RIGHT NOW. Myself. I even actually remember talking about this with a couple of friends a year or so back.

"Man, remember doing the wax layouts by hand and exacto knife?"
"Oh man, do you remember when you had to wait like 45m to compile a PDF?"
"Oh, and 600DPI was like CRAAAAAAAZY high resolution?"

This is while we were playing with a 24" Wacom Cintiq touchscreen and he drew a landscape using his finger, then added a sketch on the stylus in about five minutes.

Now I reminisce about playing Super Mario Brothers and working the Atari joystick on a CRT tube screen that at 20" was HUGE while seated in front of four LCD monitors at 24" each running six different apps, playing both music videos and audio files in a playlist with a small hard drive that contains 48,000 electronic books, a music collection that could run for six months, 24 hours a day, never playing the same song twice (45,000 audio files), a library of over 300 movies in full 1920x1080 resolution (higher than the cameras of 1980 in the cinema alone) and working on the production of manuals and software that would have taken, even six years ago, a team of eight six weeks to roll out simultaneously.

I can scan a 1,000 page, 8.5 x 11" document in about half an hour and have every word automatically converted into a searchable file - using an object no bigger than the first phone I remember my parents owning.

My first answering machine took up more space than my current one - an automated voice mail that bounces any phone call I get to a voicemail that sends the voice file to my email address as an MP3.

If I were to put it all back in the exact resolution and sound quality it used to be, my entire college collection of music and movies that I crated and shuffled from space to space fits in a 32GB microSD card that is no bigger than the fingernail on my ring finger.

My phone - which I use to make calls, surf the internet, take pictures of things with a flash camera, and read documents on the fly - has more processing power than my first actual computer owned in college.

Using that same phone, I pop open the Dropcam app, and instantly see, right now, whether my dog is in his crate or out on a walk with our dogwalker, since we can't get home at lunch to take him out for the hour he needs.

My phone tracks my personal movements via GPS so I can figure out the fastest way, most days, that I need to take to get home. It's my alarm clock and sometimes it's also my nightlight so I can find my way to bed without stumbling over things in the dark.

Now, I'm not saying this because I want to go "OMG SO MUCH BETTER" but because in 20 years, when my contact lenses directly interface with my eye movements, the cochineal implant that runs off of biometric energy and the subdermal mobile computer implant, I'll probably find some sort of video presentation about how back in the day I thought I was amazing because I had all of my music and video on a 32GB card the size of my fingernail.

Because there is one universal truth that is always passed forward from generation to generation, and that is that in the olden days, kids were polite, life was simpler, nobody thought as much about the obvious safety implications, and the ridiculousness of how overprotective and interconnected the modern world will always be shall be marvelled at by the older generation.

Even when we get jetpacks and bacterial stacks that eliminate the need to ingest food, one day, the parent or grandparent of a child borne in such a time will lean forward and say, "Huh! Bacterial stack for a stomach, eh? Why, in my day, we didn't need such a fancy thing to survive! We ate our concentrated food supplement pills and washed them down with electrolyte solution, and we LIKED it! Why, our exoskeletal musculature enhancements would act up and we'd put a fork through the dining room wall without warning, and we LIKED it that way! They sure don't make biological sustenance systems the way they used to!"

And the kids will STILL roll their eyes and go off somewhere else to get away from the grumpy old farts.

So to the grumpy old farts of today and tomorrow, I salute you.

And to the younger generation, all I have to say is one day you'll be trying to explain to your kids what a Netflix was, and why it was the coolest thing EVER to be able to see movies by logging into an account and watching them.

And then, out of the corner of your eye, you'll probably see them doing this with theirs: