Monday, July 21, 2014

Growing Up Google

   I remember my youth quit vividly and remember the world before all this technology we are all inundated with. It’s funny to see the reaction of children when you explain to them that you grew up without all the things they see as simple norms of life. They look at you as if you’ve told them some sort of obvious impossibility that you should be ashamed to think they would ever believe. Well, I hate to break it to them, but the world still turned without Google, Facebook or any apps.

   These days, there is an app for everything. The progression of technology is incredible, and a bit scary if I’m being honest. I remember having to ask someone I thought was reliable, consulting a dictionary, or searching an encyclopedia to get information of expand my knowledge. Even then the information was dated as both the dictionary or encyclopedia was only as current as the last printing…and the last printing was never the day you were looking up the information.

   Now…children have access to up-to-the-minute information and “encyclo” has been replaced by “wiki.” That’s assuming they even go to that site after their inquiry has been “googled.” How marvelous it must be to be growing up with google. How scary it is to envision a future where the only information source is dependent upon bits and the energy that carries them. Think about what a future home is going to look like. What is a bookshelf going to be without books?

   I’m not just talking about information books (especially since the information is outdated the second it’s printed), but books in general. With all the devices available to read e-books, what’s the point of buying or owning an actual book? Why invest in such an archaic medium when you can carry one device that can access more books and information that you could ever actually carry? Why not have a library at your fingertips?

   I can certainly see the advantage and embrace this brave new world we are all living in…but I also have some reservations. I mean, I can go to my bookshelf and grab a book and read it. My bookshelf will never be “down for maintenance” or experiencing any difficulty wherein my access is blocked. I think very few of us, especially the youth, are considering who can or is controlling the flow of the information they are accessing. I’d be surprised if anyone under the age of eighteen has any idea how to get information should the power ever stop.

   Think ahead another twenty-five, fifty, even one hundred years from now and imagine the dependence on computer technology…then what would happen should the access to that tech suddenly vanish. I remember when handwriting was an actual course in class we had to master. It mattered if we could write since writing letters was still a viable way to communicate. Children today have tablets in class and sending email isn’t dependent on good penmanship. Is it too much of a stretch to see the youth of the future completely dumbfounded on what to do with a pen and piece of paper as a way to convey information?

   What happens to the past and history if the internet is the only source to access it? I have already seen how it has been changed on certain subjects and when it is the only source consulted by the youth today, who will say differently tomorrow? 

   I think technology is great and I have been very blessed to see all the changes I have witnessed, however, I can see some issues arising for this generation of children growing up Google. The problem is exacerbated when the only people that care to explore them are an older generation that is slowly dwindling in numbers and influence. The youth need to be impressed upon to realize that there was life before all this technology…and that life still exists outside of all this technology. They need to be prepared for the day the lights go out.

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