Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Technology in Perspective

Smart phones are truly one of the most amazing feats of technology ever invented.

It is now possible to use speech recognition apps to speak a text message into your phone without having to actually write it. When the person on the other end receives the message, he can use a text-to-speech app to read the text back to him in a human voice.

When I was growing up, we had an app that would do all that.

We called it the telephone.

A generation is growing up that doesn’t understand the concept of a dial tone. They don’t know why we “hang up” to end a call. They don’t know what it means to “dial” a number. They have never heard a ringtone actually “ring”.

And they wonder why refer to something as “wireless”. What? As opposed to being “wired”?!

(Well, yeah. But, never mind...)

Eons ago, a phone was something that was screwed to the kitchen wall. The sphere of your conversation was limited to the length of a spiral cord (thus, the wire).

People would run extra fast when they heard that the call was “long distance”. You never called a “person”; you called that person’s “house” and hoped they were home. The person answering didn’t have Caller ID or a customize ringtone to know who was calling; they just had a “ring”.

It’s all perspective.

A century and a half ago, it took 24 days to get a message from Missouri to California. The Pony Express shortened that time to 10 days. Only two years later, the telegraph changed that time to a matter of hours. The transcontinental railroad could deliver the message and the messenger in three days. Airliners reduced that time to dozens of hours, and then four hours.

An email travels the distance in milliseconds.

What hath God wrought?

We used to have a phone. Then we had a mobile phone.

Now we have a portal to the sum of all human knowledge, slimmer than a deck of cards that we can carry in our pocket and call upon to solve the mysteries of the universe. Coincidentally, it contains an app that lets it emulate an old-fashion voice telephone.

And we use it to share kitten videos.

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