Friday, March 26, 2010

In Praise of Technology

First off, I’m no “techie.” If anything, I’m a technophobe, reluctant to dabble in the latest technology until absolutely necessary. But where would we be without technological advances we now take for granted?

Back in the mid-80’s, a friend – then an Apple dealer – provided my first computer, a used Macintosh 512K. The first personal computers worked at snail’s pace, seemingly taking forever to save simple documents. I often feared the power would fail before my work had gone to hard drive.

Upon using the computer, however, I became hooked. Within days I disposed of my electric typewriter permanently. Almost instantly I became a much better writer and editor, adding and deleting words, sentences, paragraphs, moving them around. No more debating whether changes merited retyping.

A similar thing happened with cameras. Over decades as a newspaper and magazine editor, people often asked if I got any good photos. My standard reply was I would know as soon as the film was processed. About three years ago I bought my first digital camera. Immediately I knew how good my photos were – and could instantly delete all I wasn’t pleased with.

Back in 1997, I returned from my first trip to Europe with 56 rolls of film, nearly 2,000 photos in all, many of them not good enough to line a birdcage. Today, I could store the same number of images on about three photo cards – and quickly delete and reshoot the unacceptable ones.

Still, I have no iPod or MP3 player. I use a basic cell phone. I rarely text, never tweet. Why overcomplicate? But I still have high praise for technology. Every week I write and edit a business meditation that is e-mailed, translated into more than 20 languages, and then redistributed to an estimated two million people worldwide. Years ago, who could have dreamed such a thing?

I'm posting this on the Internet, for goodness sake!

Many centuries ago, wise King Solomon wrote, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). I know what he meant – that the basic needs, drives, purposes and desires of mankind are unchanging. But “nothing new under the sun”? I wonder what he would have thought of a Blackberry?

No comments: