Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Whoa, Nelly! What Will Tech Look Like When We're 90?

During the Christmas holidays, I visited family and friends; like most of you, our family and close friends came together, prepared a large meal, talked about the past year, and, of course, exchanged gifts.

Among those celebrating with us was a short, spunky, Scottish lady named Nelly. Real name Helen, Nelly has one of those rare energy levels that prompt her to hug and sometimes (if the music is right) dance with those around her. Nelly is a bundle of energy. Why else would friends call her Nelly rather than Helen. Nelly, by the way, is 92 years old.

While the gifts were being unwrapped, I pulled out my two digital cameras (a Kodak EasyShare and a HP Photosmart) and began to shoot those candid moments when surprise turns to happiness (or dismay) as family and friends opened their gifts.

In the process of shooting, Nelly looked at the cameras with amazement. She asked to look at one of them, and so I showed her a camera and the viewfinder, which showed her the pictures I had just taken. She shook her head in astonishment. When I removed the 2GB SD memory card from the camera and told her that all the pictures were stored on this tiny little device, I was afraid she would fall off her chair.

When I slipped the SD Card into a nearby laptop's memory card reader and showed her the pictures and printed out a few, she look intently at the images and said with the wisdom of ninety plus years of life: "Aren't they just beautiful pictures. Aren't they just full of memories."

While the technology amazed her initially (the advancements in digital photography, the shrinking size of storage devices, the ease to print photographs), she ultimately understood the real meaning behind the technology: It made picture-taking and sharing (and memory-making) more immediate. The human side trumped the technology insomuch that technology simply made the human experience among family and friends (the picture-taking process, for instance) more intimate, more immediate.

After the evening ended, I thought about those moments and wondered how technology will look like when we're 90 years old. It will certainly amaze us as well, I am sure. I cannot even begin to imagine.

But we can be certain of one thing: Technology will continue to enable us to communicate, create, share, and bond (form communities) with others. How will all this transpire, I can only guess.

What are your ideas - what will technology look like when we hit 90 years old (God and good genes willing.)

about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.