As I write this you are playing Angry Birds on my new phone... all by yourself. I think you will learn how to work my new phone quicker than I will and I am frightened to think about how soon you will have a phone of your own and what form it will take. (I think in a decade or two they will just be implanted in your teeth!) Anyway, I wanted to tell you about technology in 2011. Future you will probably read this and laugh. And that is why I am putting it down in writing. I would LOVE to hear from my parents about their first TV, their first color TV, etc. (Mom and Dad, feel free to comment!) For now, let me tell you about my first smart phone.
I am amazed because my new phone (which was free with a 2 year contract and an applicable data plan) is really a computer. I have been e-mailing and checking websites on it as much (OK more) than using it as a phone. That makes me thing, not only about my first phone, but my first e-mail account, first computer, etc.
Let me preface this by saying that I am not overly technological. I left home for college with a word processor that would show me 4 lines of text at a time. I wrote all of my college papers on that thing up until I was almost a senior! I don't remember much about buying my first computer. I know I had it to write my thesis and kept it for a LONG time after that. I do remember not having a computer, but it not mattering much. I used the library computers and the UTC Honors Program computers for e-mail and projects and I am sure a day came when I was using them so much that getting my own made sense.
I distinctly remember my brother introducing me to e-mail. I remember him explaining over and over how great it was and me NOT getting it at first. Everyone I knew was at UTC with me or available by phone (from the wall phone in my dorm, for 10 cents a minute... no cell phone yet!) I think at that point e-mail was rare enough that I had to go to some one's office at UTC and ask to be given an account. Within a year or so, they were automatically assigning freshman an e-mail address upon arrival, which also seems weird today because everyone has an e-mail account, so I doubt colleges have to assign them anymore. I remember that it was a big enough deal to have free e-mail access that a young teacher at my mom's school borrowed mine (with my permission) for a short period of time to e-mail his girlfriend back home. I promised not to read his e-mails and he promised not to read mine. It seems so strange as I write this, because today free e-mail is pretty easy to find. It makes me wonder what else we struggle to pay for today, that might be free and easy in the future. I hope energy, education, and sweetened condensed milk are so plentiful in the future that you will laugh at us struggling to pay for them!
So, I got e-mail and eventually my own computer, graduated from college, got a job, moved to Washington DC with my fiance (um... more on that when you are older!) and did not have a cell phone. I knew people who had them, but most of those people had busy live or well paying jobs. I had a home phone and payed for long distance and now I could e-mail people too! (but only from home or from a bank of 5 computers in the school library that I shared with ALL the teachers at my school... not computer in my classroom in 1999!) Then one day a guy decided to jump off the I495 bridge connecting DC and Maryland. I lived in Virgina and took a different bridge home, but this one event slowed traffic to the point that my 20 minute commute took 4 hours. During that time I listened to my car radio, thanked God that I had a full tank of gas, and decided I was going to get a cell phone. It was huge and it lasted longer than any phone I have had since. It only struggled to work one day, September 11, when I and several of my students joined the rest of the DC population in trying to contact loved ones working in or near the Pentagon (more on that when you are older too!)
Since then there have been a string of new phones, new computers, and new programs to run on those devices. And now I sit with a phone that does most of the things I use my computer for. It probably does more things than that first computer could do. And it makes me wonder, how amazing will the advances in your lifetime be? I hope that more advancement will make difficult and expensive services inexpensive and easily accessible for you. And yet, as I write this blog and think about older technologies that have become obsolete, the cassette tape, the VHS tape, etc. I hope you will be able to access this blog and read what I write to you, for you, about you. In the back of my mind, I wonder if I should also invest in a low tech backup and have some of this printed on good old fashioned paper. Just in case!