High Tech Changes The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Now that the post three-day weekend doldrums have fallen upon us, it’s time to get serious again.  Afterall it’s back to reality and Fall is just 17-days away.  Here in Seattle with summer on the wane, that’s time for serious reflection!

I’m amazed at how high-tech has taken over my life.  If it were not for my current financial limitations it would be even more dominant.  I’m unemployed, too bad for Apple!  I can hardly get through a day without opening my laptop and in-fact rarely do. Even if I can’t get Internet access there’s still plenty I can find to wile away my time on my laptop.  It even became a marital issue and was the reason I had to give up my first blogging venture.  It’s a solitary endeavor, this thing called writing and it takes an understanding companion to put up with it.

The one thing, more than any other that has touched my life in a high-tech way, is how easy it has become to communicate with people in far-off places and at zero cost (once you have the high-tech in-hand).  Take this blog for example.  My reach is worldwide and so far [in September 2011] I’ve seen visitors from at least 33 states and 18 countries including recently the Russian Federation of Krasnaya Presnya and even Sri Lanka.  Then of course there’s email.  Is it any wonder the U.S. Postal Service is bleeding money to the tune of more than $3-billion in a single quarter?  I mean who sends letters these days?

My long-time interest in family history has come a long ways with the coming of the digital age.  In recent years I’ve met dozens of close as well as distant cousins in all four corners of the country and many places between.  All of us with interests in pursuing our roots.  Most of these relations I would never have known, were it not for the ease of sending an email or logging onto my Facebook account. My life is enriched by them.  Some of them visit here often and leave comments.  I’m amazed at the interests and the talents that they bring to the table and the information they share and how easy it is to do it.  Back in-the-day — most of us will remember — it used to take days for the old-fashioned letter to travel across the country, now a couple of emails, by similarly separated correspondents, can be exchanged in a matter of minutes.

That’s not to say there isn’t a bad side to all this, depending on your personal views.  Nowadays people read books on their Kindles and Nooks and some wonder how long the printed book will be around.  The recent demise of Borders Books is a testament to the changes that could be ahead.  What we once would spend hours in a library researching is only a few keystrokes away on virtually any subject that comes to mind.  Regarding the decline of library usage Wikipedia says:

As technology becomes increasingly available and digital information expands on a daily basis, academic library use is on the decline.

Research libraries on college and university campuses are finding that “gate counts and circulation of traditional materials are falling at many college libraries across the country, as students find new study spaces in dorm rooms or apartments, coffee shops, or nearby bookstores.”  The shift to electronic resources has many scholars and librarians worrying about the loss of a central community resource in physical libraries, whether they are at the university or public level.  University boards are becoming increasingly skeptical about new additions and library buildings since they cost so much.

Yes the times they are a-changin’ but I don’t think even Bob Dylan had a clue how much.

It’s a great, big, vast world out there but made much smaller by our wired access to it.  We have the world at our fingertips but, as with every great invention, the Internet and it’s connected gadgets can be misused and abused.  Addictions develop, families and homes distressed, sometimes ripped apart as a result.  And in recent years with the expansion of social media it’s worse.  Internet crime, pornography, and the dissemination of information — some would rather not see shared — is easily found on the Internet.  Want to know how to build a bomb?  Change your identity or steal someone’s?  Kill yourself?  Want to trade bizaar sexual proclivities with those of a similar mind?   The how tos of crime, decadence and perversion, virtually anything one’s heart desires — be they good or evil — are just an Internet connection away.

Issues abound on the dissemination of the worse that mankind can provide.  Here in the U.S. such things are protected by first amendment guarantees of freedom of expression.  But how does all this apply to the ease of the open Internet?  We live in a day and an age with possibilities and issues our Founding Father’s never imagined.  How could they possibly?  Further complicating the landscape these legal issues — and the ability to enforce them — only go so far as our national boundaries, while the Internet knows no such limits.

Will all these wonders of a privileged society lead to its destruction or the dawning of a new enlightened age?  Who knows, but it will be years before it’s all sorted out.  Sit back and take note young people… it’s going to be a bumpy and interesting ride.


4 comments on “High Tech Changes The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

  1. You and I are a lot alike with respect to enjoying the high-tech stuff -particularly e-mail and internet. I would be totally lost without my little computer and my internet connection, for sure. I would hope that libraries and books, in general, don’t take such a hard hit as to becoming virtually obsolete. I’m not ready to switch to a kindle or other reading apparatus -at least not yet anyway. My son’s girlfriend got a kindle this spring and she swears it’s the best thing ever since sliced bread. But I still love to sit with a book and be able to physically turn the pages for some reason or other -not sure why that is, but it is that way with me anyway….

    • Rick Gleason says:

      I certainly understand the attraction to physically holding a book and turning it’s pages. I too am drawn to it as well. There is something about the smell of a newly printed page. Often when I’m in a book store, after making a quick check to see if anyone is looking, I’ll take in a deep whiff of that aroma!

      But, after so many years of lugging, storing and maintaining my hundreds of books from place-to-place, I’m ready to give that aromatic pleasure a second seat to the convenience of a Kindle. Can you imagine, 3000 books stored within a gadget about the size of a single paperback? And this is just the beginning of the many advantages digital books provide. Just holding that thing in my hand with so much of the world’s knowledge contained within gives me goosebumps!

  2. I still enjoy a book and yes…even a newspaper in my hands. Yet, I admittedly think nothing of checking the news on my smart phone while watching sports. I think I have made a partial transition nicely to a higher high-tech plain but am not yet ready to go all in and have everything digitalized…and doubt I ever will. Enjoyed the post!

    • Rick Gleason says:

      What comes naturally for the younger generation, that grew up accustomed to all this high-tech gadgetry, can be a difficult transition for those of us who remember black and white television and transistor radios. Newspapers and books are among the last hold-outs for the fading generations. Thanks for stopping by!

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