On the 13th day, I’m grateful for technology, and the way it makes my life possible.
When I was 16, my dad bought a computer.
It needed a floppy drive to boot up. The hard drive was non-existent. The font was green and the screen was black. It was an “IBM Clone.” Dad was always a gadget guy, and he had been reading about this stuff for a while, and his friend Milton had gotten one the year before, so it was just a matter of time, really.
Dad was on the Bulletin Boards, and the modem in those days was a thing you set the receiver of your phone into. If someone else in the house picked up an extension, you got kicked off the modem. And the bulletin boards were all long-distance to call. I was not interested in any of this at all.
Thirty-three years later, it is such a different world as to be unrecognizable. I have not used a modem in over a decade. I’m typing this on a laptop that has more memory than many universities would have had access to in the mid-eighties. My cell phone has more communications capabilities than Bill Clinton would have had access to when he was President.
This afternoon, I watched a wedding happen in Georgia. I was in Mississippi, in my office. Just 30 minutes before, I was video chatting with the bride and groom.
This morning, I went to a Native Plant sale. I learned about the sale via social media. I downloaded a list of the plants they would for sale have from the internet, and then I printed it off on my printer. I paid for my plants using a cashless transfer using a debit card and their cell phone, and the money was instantly available to them.
Last night, I held a meet and greet for my Patrons. I used Zoom, and thus never left my house, and none of them left theirs. People as far apart as Montana, New Mexico, and New York all interacted, saw each other, and got to know each other without leaving their house, in real time, and used tools available to virtually anyone.
Last night, I wrote a 1200-word essay about my workshop and published it. It was immediately available to more than three billion people, and I used the exact same tools to do it that the New York Times uses, and that any high school child has access to.
Nothing that I do professionally existed 30 years ago, especially in this pandemic year.
The sheer amount of information I have access to – for free! – is staggering, and would have been beyond the comprehension of any person in 1985.
What a time to be alive.