Living With Constant Change

I read a book back in the ’70’s titled “Future Shock” by Alvin Toffler, a “futurist”. His first chapter grabbed you. He explained that if you treated all time, from the Big Bang to the instant the reader turns the first page as one day, that the last 10,000 years of “civilization” were a mere instant. Ages were minutes, eons mere hours.

As an avid science fiction reader, I knew all this, but he laid it out patiently. We were in the greatest age of change in history.

Recently, another book, “What Technology Wants” by Kevin Kelly hypothesized that technological change is inevitable, barring a cataclysmic disaster, but that is good because it is 60% beneficial and only 40% detrimental. That tends to be my experience, e.g.:

1. Cell phones cause accidents, reception is unreliable, and my Blackberry sure gets me in trouble if I use it in the restaurant will dining with my wife! But, the convenience and connectivity are so fabulous, and getting better, that it is impossible to go back to land phones and phone booths.

2. Facebook wastes time, leads to bloopers and to the wrong people getting your message, and is used for many unworthy purposes, but with nearly a billion members it has become the communal communications center for mankind.

3. Computers in all their forms consume and control us, and they are susceptible to security breaches,
but they magnify our productivity and give instant access to the wisdom and knowledge of the world.

4. The Internet is used to powerful effect by pedophiles, Nazis and Jehadists, and cancer researchers, schools, governments, businesses, and charities.

But, once something really works, Facebook six months ago, my Blackberry Curve, my Subaru WRX, and my first generation iPad, would it not be nice for it to last 5-10 years? My parents and grandparents had the same basic phone for 50 years of so. The t.v. repairman in Buckhannon had a shop in the same place for 30 years or so (That space now sells medical supplies!), and my wife’s family had the same car for 11 years.

Alas, that is no longer the world in which I live. This blog is a perfect example. All of a sudden, every time I visited it, I got a pop up telling me about the new dynamic interface. Just “click here” for a razzle-dazzle view that will finally make my blog go viral. I clicked, and have regretted it for a month. When I tried to view it, I was told I needed a newer browser. Just “click here” and I can download it. I clicked and tried to download, only to be told that I already have an even NEWER browser which blocks the one I was told I needed.

When I tried to view my own blog, I could not, and if I “proceeded unenhanced”, I reached a screen that would not allow me to view, print, or play video from any of my old posts. Here I had this fabulous tool that was working well. It contained wisdom I charge real money to my clients for, and it was there for free on The Web. But I could not view it, share it, print or play it! Agh!!

In a mere 45 minutes today I was able to work my way through the Help menus and find a way to “revert to previous template” which restored the blog I had a month ago! What a relief, but we all know that soon Google will make me move into the future. By then I hope I have the right browser.

Without this crazy changing environment, I would not even have a blog. And, don’t worry, I learned on public television’s Nova that time is a mere illusion of our limited perspective, and all events, from Big Bang to end of time, already exist – like a streaming video.

Go figure.

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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