Wading Through The Techo Flood

Susan Page
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Wednesday - January 07, 2009
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As I gaze bewildered at the computer screen, reality sinks in. I’m face-to-face with both my nemesis and my pleasure, and if I don’t take control, 2009 will be gone with nothing to show for it but bleary eyes and a stack of instruction booklets.

The fact is, I’m drowning in technology. The information highway is flooded and I’m up to my waders in downloads, uploads, blogs, tutorials, Facebook, forums, chatrooms, texting, exponentially expanding e-mail and three-hour sessions with Nandu in India about my software problems.

Forget YouTube, I need an inner tube.

It’s not that I’m a dog-paddler in the metaphorical rough waters of gadgets, gizmos, software and hardware. Compared to some - maybe many - I’d be considered an intermediate techie swimmer. I’ve actually mastered creating blog sites and regularly edit our web site.

The truth is, I love cool tech stuff, but it has somehow managed to steal my time ... all in the name of saving it. During the past 30 years, devices have emerged that enable us to communicate and retrieve information instantly. New technology is constantly replacing old and even saving lives in the process. But nothing so far can actually manage time.

As children, our parents saw ice boxes become refrigerators and saw the radio, automobiles and airplanes develop. They still had their time intact. But we Baby Boomers have witnessed a tsunami of technology emerge since our childhoods. The 45 record player of the ‘50s gave way to the LP, then the cassette tape, the CD and now the iPod MP3. From the black dial telephone to the BlackBerry and iPhone, communicating seems to become faster, smaller and more portable, diverse and high definition every few months (minutes?). We’re wireless and hands-free, but what happens to our free time when something breaks?

Our first televisions had a black-and-white screen, rabbit ears and picture tubes. Now it’s high definition on inches-thin Plasma or LCD TVs with 500 channels and digital video recorders (DVRs) so one may never miss a thing. We used to search encyclopedias for information; now we search the Internet, getting lost for hours in the “click here” links that take you in a thousand directions.

Our high-fidelity (Hi-Fi) sound systems became surround sound, and my old 1980s bulky Apple computer is now a little portable I can even write on like a tablet. My first cell phone weighed as much as my laptop weighs now.

We used to write and mail letters. Then came the fax machine, delivering data almost instantly - anywhere in the world. In the ‘90s I faxed my column in to MidWeek. Today we have (drum roll) ... e-mail, both blessing and curse that enables anyone in the world to reach you, like it or not. Answering e-mails from people we used to get a yearly Christmas card from sucks away precious time ... word by word.

We used to call for directions, and now we have portable global positioning systems (GPS) so we’re never lost. For Christmas our kids gave us a hybrid universal charger (Solio) that stores power from the sun (or a USB port) and charges all our devices.

In his November Techno Trends newsletter (http://www.Burress.com), good friend Dan Burress, futurist, author and consultant, writes of some exciting new technology on the horizon: the air-powered car, an image processing chip allowing real-time high-definition TV on cell phones, eye-control electronic devices, Japanese developed Robotic Suits called HAL - Hybrid Assistive Limb - for the movement disabled (available in 2009), a robotic “snake” with an “Active Scope” camera for rescues in earthquakes and building collapses, and a new social networking site connecting artists and art lovers worldwide, http://www.ArtCloud.com.

Innovations that provide solutions.

But as 2009 looms large, there’s no techno solution for me. I have to wade out of this technology flood onto the dry ground of sensibility and resolve to budget my time on the computer, not buy any new electronics until I master the ones I have, and to exercise.

I pledge to ride my bike at least three times a week - with my GPS, of course.

Happy New Year.

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