Street Smarts on the Internet

My grandmother on my laptop, looking at photos of the kids

My grandmother on the laptop, looking at photos of the kids

I am having a hard time with technology. One of my goals for this sabbatical was to learn more about it, because there’s never enough time to keep up, and technology moves so fast. Even now, as I am playing around with my first blog, I have no idea who’s really looking at it and what the consequences are, which is pretty naïve when you think about it. At the same time, I don’t want to be paranoid about it.

I got a snippy message on my work email which I almost deleted, thinking it was spam, but then I realized it was aimed at me in response to one of my posts. It bothered me more than it should have. As I was talking to Starbucks Help Desk, to get my password reset so that I could get on to my work email, I realized that to my 70 year-old mother-in-law who was overhearing the conversation, I was dropping words she probably never heard of, like “OWA” and “SAP.” And then the guy in Seattle asked me, do I want to reset my password or my passcode? I don’t even know what the difference is.

So I am angered and in love with technology, and realizing I am addicted to it.

We’ve been watching the movie Wall-E, which plays around with futuristic themes of mankind vs. technology. Funny that we have three DVD players stacked on top of each other, leaning over, and we’re not sure how to configure them all. One of them is a universal player, which shows DVDs from multiple countries; another one plays only U.S., and the third plays just European. I don’t know how to tell where the DVDs even come from (U.S. or Europe) to know which goes in which player.

And then there is the GPS: you can’t get around in Europe without one we’ve been told, but I am scarred by the memory of driving to the Frankfurt airport early one morning with my mom when the unit failed, and we didn’t know north from south.

We talked about this in Tuscany, and Miriam said she has a friend who’s younger than her, who will probably never know the value of handwritten letters from an admirer, in this age of IM, SMS, email, etc. It’s instant gratification, but intimate from a distance – like MP3s vs. mix tapes, or albums you hold open in your lap, like a book.

So I am still addicted, but wary. I spent a lot of time on Wikipedia last night reading about various religions of the world from the 4th to 13th centuries, and got myself lost in the layers of sub-pages and hyperlinks. I fear in part that when we go to France next week, we’ll miss out on a lot of history that’s just outside our reach, because we didn’t buy ourselves some good guidebooks, and thought we’d have Wi-Fi access instead.

Categories: Detours, technology

1 reply

  1. Hi, Bill – thanks for sharing your blog. I had to laugh when I read today’s entry because of the vigorous discussion I just had with one the partners on my team. The subject was Facebook and whether or not that was a more detached way of staying connected. I am sure you can guess what side I was on.

    Have fun!



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