Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

I was in the john, thinking thoughts and reading a detective novel, when I came across this quote:

Walking back through the mall to the exit nearest our part of the parking lot, we passed one shop which sold computers, printers, software and games.  It was packed with teenagers, the kind who wear wire rims and know what the new world is about. The clerks were indulgent, letting them program the computers.  Two hundred yards away, a different kind of teenager shoved quarters into the space-war games, tensing over the triggers, releasing the eerie sounds of extraterrestrial combat. Any kid back in the computer store could have told the combatants that because there is no atmosphere in space, there is absolutely no sound at all.  Perfect distribution: the future managers and the future managed ones. Twenty in the computer store, two hundred in the arcade.

The future managers have run past us into the thickets of CP/M, M-Basic, Cobal, Fortran, Z-80, Apples, and Worms.  Soon bosses of the microcomputer revoluton will sell us preprogrammed units for each household which privde entertainment, print out news, purvey mail-order goods, pay bills, balance accounts, keep track of expenses and computer taxes. But by then, the future managers will be over on the far side of the thickets, dealing with bubble memories, machines that design machines, projects so estoteric our pedestrian minds cannot comprehend them.  It will be the biggest revolution of all, bigger than the wheel, bigger than Franklin’s kite, bigger than paper towels.

The quote comes from John D. MacDonald’s 1982 novel, “Cinnamon Skin,” and I was struck, truly struck, by its insight and how it affected me personally.

Computers and the Internet are not a new thing, a phase, a fad or a bubble.  They’re not just another tool, feature or service.

They are a revolution, pure and simple.  And those of us alive now, witnessing (and participating in) the effect of networked computers, will be able to tell future generations that we remember a time when (insert crazy statement here).

I could fill in something like, “news and entertainment came from a few big corporations” or “there were dozens of kinds of currency” or “people were unable to communicate directly with each other sometimes” or “democracy was representative, not direct” or “when people died, they took all their experiences and memories with them.”

Five years ago, there were no DVD players.  Ten years ago, there was no Web.  Fifteen years ago, there was no email.  Twenty years ago, there was no personal computer.

I had no concept, when I got involved with computers and journalism in the early 1990s, that I was going to be part of something so big.  Even now, when I’m working on sites for journalists, I rarely stop to think about the truly big picture—that we’re helping to create sites that allow news, communication and relationships to be shared on a blogal scale, in a way that blows every preceeding method of news gathering and reporting away.

And in another 20 years, what we’re doing now is going to look downright dowdy, or even dismal.  In 20 more years, we’re going to be looking back and shaking our heads and wondering how we ever could have lived the way we did.  I know that this prediction isn’t a surprise to anyone, but it helps sometimes to step back and look at a scene with a long view.

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

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