Of Typewriters and Yellow pages

While the lecture prank above would definitely bring snorts and giggles in today’s age of laptops, iPads and Blackberrys, 15 or so shy years ago, the thought of lugging a typewriter to campus was not too far fetched.  Students then actually wrote down their notes with their #2 pencils and ruled notepads. The most hi-tech doodads you’d most likely find in backpacks then would have been a scientific calculator, a black and white screened Gameboy, a Sony Discman, the odd Tamagotchi or a Nokia 5110 dual band GSM cellphone.  Save for the scientific calculators, the others mentioned are by now considered dinosaurs.  Antiquated technology.

I read a news article on Yahoo! News the other day saying that the last type writer may have already been built.  Perhaps in a few short years, the next generation of kids will only get to see them as museum pieces or even on Wikipedia.  Just as how out of place type writers these days are in the  modern day, paperless office, are the senior folk on with today’s technology.  Where as Working class baby-boomers, let alone Gen X/Y folks, get along just fine with what magical doohickeys Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Japan and Korea throw our way, a lot of folks born during the pre-war and post-war era struggle just to keep up with today’s technological advances.  Back when I was a wee lad, if we wanted to order for McD’s delivery, we’d pull out the ol’Yellow Pages and call the nearest branch to place our orders.  These days, I can do the same by Googling and placing my order on the McD’s website.  On my Samsung Galaxy Tab.  While I’m still on the way home.  In a car.  Convenient? Yes.

But what if you were in your 70’s or 80’s who was still pressing away at your 3 year old Sony Ericsson just trying to pull up that last SMS you got from your 6 year old grandson?  Things sound like it’s too complicated now, huh?  This thought was provoked after I got wind of Twitter user @OldManSearch.  Supposedly, some wiseguy told his old man that Twitter is where you type your Google searches.  While the idea may seem far fetched given how long it’s been going on, it just goes to show how lost technologically inept seniors are and how easily they can be misled for people’s amusement.  I’d like to give it the benefit of the doubt.   Not to mention the ‘search queries’ that come up can be completely ordinary such as netflix and Osama kicking the can to the oddly dubious “Diane Sawyer swimsuit pictures”.

One tweet did get me thinking about the technological generation gap: “what does e mail cost“.  While we do get a kick out of that, I ask myself, how can these seniors manage to survive in the mouse click driven world.  Who knows, perhaps 50 or so odd years from now, we might be in his shoes trying to find our bearings on a 3-D augmented reality world just to get our daily fix of Irish cream Cappuccino, gazing upon a Starbucks menu with 30 or so items to choose from.


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