Sunday, August 20, 2006

Creeping Obsolescence?

"When you are young enough, I thought, all sorts of unrevealed possibilities make you a person, but afterwards when there are no more possibilities you become a type."
-- John P. Marquand, Wickford Point

Not my computer. Me. I'm getting kind of concerned, here. I feel like, if I'm still cutting edge, I may not be the edge that's kept.

I was one of those precocious kids who was always a few units ahead of my peers. I never had to study, and thus never really learned how to do it very well, and consequently wound up rather less well educated than I might have been. As I get older and my wits lose their suppleness, it can be a chore to keep up with things. I'm doing okay, in real life, but I shudder to think if I had to suddenly re-enter the job market.

The first computers I ever used were in a college computer lab. They had DOS machines running Wordstar, and the original toaster Macs. My first pc that I ever owned was an Apple Mac Performa (which was a lemon and a half, but that's another story). I've participated in the internet age, as a layman, since 1995--which is to say, pretty much since it broke out into a mass audience. I was driving around and noticed that I'd started seeing web addresses on billboards, and thought that I'd better get on board with this stuff. I've even given tutorials to classes of new users, people even more "lay" than me.

I'm no programmer--I don't get under the hood of computers much--and I don't particularly want to be one. There have to be consumers too, you know. What's getting me concerned is the advent of some web tools, the concept behind which escapes me. Web feeds, for instance. I've read definitions, and I know that this blog is set up with a feed, in fact. Yet I don't quite grasp the idea behind it. Same with tags, as opposed to mere searchwords. Same with sites such as Digg and I guess I've got some more to unlearn, in order to wrap my brains around these things.

Scientists, artists, seekers of all types from 100 years ago would have loved to know what I know, and see what I see every day. We truly live in an age of technological wonders (and have for the last 100 years, truth to tell). So I resolve to apply myself more and keep up, the better to appreciate the unfolding marvels, and not be reduced to blundering through a maze of enigmas. For this is the real Golden Age, I'm convinced.

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