Friday, July 13, 2007


Sunday I have to take my wife back to Miami where she will undergo treatment for the cancer on her eye. We will be driving since airports are such a hassel and airline service is terrible. The last time we flew was to visit our daughter in Albany, NY. Our luggage got lost and we didin't receive it until we about to leave for home. I remember the good old days when flying anywhere was an event where you dressed up, and the whole family came to the airport to see you off.

The first time I ever flew was on a Pan American Clipper. It was actually a flying boat which made a lot of sense then because airports were few and far between. Taking off and landing on water is quite an experience. Flying at that time was an adventure.

As I look back at how things have changed in my lifetime, I think the 2 areas that have had the most impact on society are transportation and information technology. When I was young, it took about 14 hours to fly cross country now it takes about 4 hours. There was no such thing as a non stop flight across the US. The planes couldn't carry enough gas. I think that is why Kansas City, Dallas, Denver and several cities became large airline stops. They were strategically located to allow refueling stops. Even though I have flown all over the US, Europe and parts of Asia, I continue to be amazed at how easy it is to get from one place to another. One trip I took to Germany was routed directly over the North Pole. Think of how many people died trying to get there and what a big deal was made of it when Admiral Byrd did it.

Anyone who has given any thought to how we live today has to realize that for better or worse, the explosion in information technology made it possible. I well remember the party lines of yore and how there was always someone who tied the line up for hours on end. Now you don't even need a telephone line. Mobile phones are rapidly making land line phones obsolete. You can take your phone almost anywhereand make calls with very little impediment. If you want to be able to make a call from even the most isolated place, you can get a satillite phone. Just look at all you can do on a wireless telephone that were not even dreamt about when I was young. Text messaging, streaming video, internet connections, GPS tracking and the list goes on. Remember Dick Tracy and his 2 way wrist radio? That was unbelievable at the time but now with a device not much larger than a watch you can communicate worldwide.

All of these developments are not without cost. The calculator has changed how math is taught and how it is understood. Before the calculator, you had to know step by step how to solve an equation. Now you punch in some numbers and hit the function butto and there is the answer. How many people today understand how the answer to a math problem is determined?

I guess that the evoultion of the Internet has changed society more than any other bit of technology. Banking/ financial enterprises can now move funds around without the actual money ever moving. Where would we be if transactions still had to be conducted by mail? You could lose your entire fortune while waiting for a check to clear.

I can't help but wonder what the world will be like when my grandchildren are my age. Will people still have to work or will they haveelectronic devices to work for them? Will people still use a pen and paper, will people know how to spell or will a computer program do it for them.

A lot has changed in my 66 years and I think mostly for good. I will probably live to see some more life changing developements but at the rate things are changing now, in another 66 years the social structure will probably be unrecognizable to me.


Blogger Larry said...

The very best to your wife with her surgery, Chuck!

2:24 PM  

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