Apple just unveiled its new Iphone and I’m drooling. My husband and I both have a 3G (didn’t see a need to upgrade to 3GS) and the technology has literally changed our relationship. We text. We share pictures. We capture moments in our lives and exchange them with each other. We reach out to my mother through email (technologically-behind that she is) and send her pictures. We entertain the children. We entertain ourselves with various games. We check the weather, our email, international soccer scores and the most recent news regularly. Heck, we check in with our airlines through our phone and if we’re ever in an car accident and able to manipulate our phone, we can take the photo of the car, fill out the form and alert our agent, all from our phone.
There are even some fabulous apps for children with autism to help them speak (like proloquo2go and iconverse). There are fabulous apps for all KINDS of children with disabilities (Matthew Stolofff’s list here). As Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, says, “If you can imagine it, it can be done.” People have an awful lot of imagination around the Iphone. And now, apparently the new Iphone does camera zoom and camera flash and a video camera and video editing and two-way (with another Iphone 4- natch) video conferencing, and can download and watch Netflix movies. And… and… Yes, yes, all of you ‘Droid fans out there, I KNOW. And I’ve got friends with Verizon as well… I know. But I’m a diehard fan of the Iphone…
It’s my favorite toy since my tricycle.
Clearly, Apple doesn’t need me as a another salesperson. We love our Iphones so much that we’re sticking with AT&T, even though Verizon provides better coverage where we are. But my mind boggles at how much technology I have grown up with…
When I was 2, my parents decided to try the “back to the land” movement that was popular in the late 60’s and we moved into a “community”- not a commune. We moved to land outside of Questa, NM, where, with several other families, we built our own house out of mud and straw and chicken wire, grew food in a garden, raised turkeys and goats and chickens and for one brief exciting month, a baby pig, and traded services for goods. It was supposed to be a Utopia. Unfortunately, humanity stepped in, religious differences crept up, and we moved away right before I turned six after several disagreements happened.
As a child, I remember being bathed in the turkey roasting pot next to the wood stove in water pumped from the well. I remember kerosene lamps. I remember the outhouse. I remember running around like crazy because I had nothing to entertain myself besides my Wendy doll, the outside, and the kids down the hill who had a swingset. My mother tells the story of taking me to the aiport bathroom on our way to see my grandmother and I turned the water on… and I turned the water off… and I turned the water on… and, round-eyed with the wonder of it all, I looked up at her and said “Wow!”
I remember the feeling of being able to figure out what I touched and how it worked- how it REALLY worked. I pulled on the hay sticking out of the wall- it crumbled and came off. We (ok, my parents) slapped more mud and hay on the wall (after yelling at me, I’m sure, but that part I don’t remember). A house was something I could figure out how to make. You planted food. It grew and you ate. And if you wanted something else, well, grow it yourself. Choices took patience.
Our moving didn’t really result in urbanization. We moved to a ranch 35 miles from a town of 3,000 people where although we had the modern technologies of running water (indoor plumbing = GOOD!) and electricity, there was still no television signal strong enough to reach that far, and no telephone lines. There were no children, no swingsets except for school- 1.5 hours away. But with running water and electricity, I had the beginnings of a love affair with technology- magic that I could control.
In college, I learned about Apple IIGs- tools I could use. I don’t know how they worked, but I could figure out how to make them do things that I wanted them to do. I switched over to PC when I learned how to run statistics and SPSS. My husband and I met because of the Web- he was the College of Education’s first Webmaster and I needed him to do a webpage for our center. He literally showed me a whole new world at our first meeting.
I think about how technology can bring the world to a little girl, grownup now, isolated and desparate for companionship. I think about how technology allows us to share and connect what is going on in our heads. I hear my mother who wonders about a generation who doesn’t know how to relate unless it’s through technology, and I think about how our tools for living, for socializing, for being connected have changed. How our brains have changed their neurological connection patterns. How visual and immediate are our choices. How technology doesn’t take away creativity, or joy or desire- to be loved or for knowing how- or an appreciation of magic- but simply provides new means of expressing those things.
And now, my children ask me if I was alive before cars were invented when I tell them my stories of growing up. At the risk of sounding like a fogey, I’ve shared with them a few of my “When I was your age” stories… and walking uphill in a blizzard to go to the bathroom is a favorite. And I watch them play Sudoku on my phone and I watch their childhood get captured in ways that mine could not, and I marvel at the 150 years of technology that I have lived. Technology is the process- wonder and magic and connections are the destination.
Santa, can I have an IPhone 4, please?