Twenty-something years ago, I used to read novels based on historic times, like Little House on the Prairie or Anne of Green Gables, and think how wonderful it would be to live in a different time. I got so caught up in the romanticism of the period that I didn't have an accurate perspective of the realities that people faced 50, 100, 200 years ago. As I got older, my reading choices matured and the romantic appeal of historic times waned, I realized how distorted my views were.
It's kind of amusing to me now that one of the reasons I changed my mind about the greatness of living in a different time was because they didn't have air conditioning. That was, and still is, a high priority for me. I don't cope well in hot weather and will never enjoy going out and "basking" in the sun. I have very fair skin and my nickname - whether I liked it or not - was Casper for a number of years during school. Not having air conditioning was anathema to me, especially after we lived without it for seven years in one of our houses.
With the simple conclusion that I didn't want to live in a world without air conditioning, I put myself on the road to wholeheartedly embracing technology, but it took a while to realize it.
I had some pretty early exposure to computers, but not enough to understand how they were going to revolutionize our world. I remember taking a computer class in 2nd grade, circa 1983/84ish. All I remember about the experience is walking into a room with tables erected against all four walls loaded up with 2 or 3 computers on each table. What we did with them is a mystery to me. I just remember seeing them.
A few years later, in middle school, I participated in "enrichment" classes where I got to take Logo and LogoWriter. Though I can recall doing the commands described in the articles and drawing pictures, I don't think I had a full grasp of the significance of what I was doing. It was even worse when I took Fortran - cool name, but I was completely lost throughout the entire course. After I started high school, I took a sabbatical from computers. The closest I got to one was being in my mom's office on occasion when she helped me out by typing my school papers.
Then I took a touch-typing course in my senior (12th grade) year of high school. Mom refused to type my papers anymore after that and my parents bought a computer for the house, complete with Windows 95, Microsoft Office, a printer and Freenet. Within a couple of years, between work, school and my home access, I got really attached to what I could do with a computer. I didn't know much, but what I knew I thought was pretty cool. And I loved to play around and experiment with software.
Of course, it was a slow transition. I remember lugging around a great big Franklin planner through university that contained "my whole life", as I dramatically described it. I had my appointments in there, credit cards, school assignments, checkbook, identification, contact information, etc. If I ever lost it, I was indeed in for some major inconveniences. What was worse is that I didn't like the college-sized version - I had to have the classic. And it was heavy.
I realized recently that I still carry around all that info, but in a much lighter package - it's all on my phone (except credit card info - that would be asking for trouble). It's searchable, archivable, securable and probably about a tenth of the weight.
I've been living in Canada, roughly 1,000 miles from my nearest family member and 1,500 miles from my hometown for nearly 10 years. Technology has allowed us to stay in touch regularly and cheaply. I have voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) telephone service. Access to email, cell phone for texting or emergency calls and my little corner of the Internet - my blog - where I can keep a running dialogue of day-to-day life or whatever else is on my mind.
Of course, I also met my husband on the Internet in 1998 (via ICQ's random chat feature - a brand new functionality at the time) and if I hadn't met him, I probably wouldn't be in Canada. There's no denying that technology has played a very significant role in my life. I'm extremely grateful that I get to live in a time when I have access to so many things that are making our world smaller and giving us easier communication.
What are some of your memories of early experiences with technology? Do you embrace technology and the changes it's bringing or do you want to slow things down? How is technology making your life better?