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Category: Technology / Topics: Change History Science & Technology Trends

The New King: Technology

by Dan Seagren

Posted: March 2, 2008

Times change. We talk of moving from the manufacturing stage to the age of information with a few points between…

Times change. We talk of moving from the manufacturing stage to the age of information with a few points between. We love to give things names, even if we have to stretch the point a little. Here's another way of delineating our progress.

America gradually shifted from making thing (industrial age) to buying them (for cash). Then we learned how to buy on credit and bought even more. Then we moved from saving to borrowing where we tend to linger right now. This led to the age of finance where manufacturing companies still manufacture but make their money on lending. We're told, for instance, that General Motors still makes things but makes its money financing cars. Maybe so.

Then we discovered that our imperialism and isolationism dissolved into globalization with treaties (like NAFTA) and outsourcing becoming everyday terms. Some suggest that some huge retailers make it work by buying from foreigners and hiring immigrants while slowly putting mom ‘n pop out of business. Even technology no longer is king as we move along into a post-technological era.

So, we seniors can moan and groan but we obviously cannot make enough noise for anyone to hear. Even so, there are entities that no longer bemoan seniors on the payroll and even appreciate their years of experience and expertise. And the handwriting on the wall indicates that some babyboomers will probably not be able to retire on schedule for a bundle of reasons, including impoverished saving accounts.

Keeping up with change is not for sissies. So, rather than try, we can take the easy way out and revert to an era of our own, isolationism. Or, we can hang in there and give it a try. Let me illustrate. I bought my first computer in 1985 at the urging of a colleague. My first computer was a 45 pound portable. Portable? I never used it as such for obvious reasons. My wife was horrified at its ugliness and so it was relegated to our walk-in closet.

Now, after  twenty-odd years, I cannot believe the changes, in size, complexity and ability. And cost (lots more for the buck today). Sure, you can purchase the top-of-the-line for big bucks, or settle for a basic model which runs slower and has fewer bells and whistles but still does a pretty good job for an amateur. So, I moved up from the 45 pounder to a laptop (a 286 for you literates), and then to a 386 with two floppies (one for running the programs, the other for the work that was done).

Then it was up to another computer, top-of-the-line IBM, which was given to me by my kids upon retirement. Meanwhile, the learning curve was always a step (or three) ahead of me and I never caught up. I subscribed to a PC (personal computer) magazine or two but canceled because they were 4 or 5 steps ahead of me. I am still trying to catch up. And I will never, never master this machine, its quirks and its enemies. Never. But I still plug along, pay bills, do research, write memos and even books and check email.  And all on a laptop but not on an iPod. Not yet.

Now, having said all this, my senior moment was the moment when it dawned on me that considerable information, technical skills and personal achievements will always be either one step ahead or behind. And, as long as I understand that, and accept it, I can manage. Then it won't manage (or mismanage) me. At times it's OK to be a sissie.

Dan Seagren is an active retiree whose writings reflect his life as a Pastor, author of several books, and service as a Chaplain in a Covenant Retirement Community.

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Posted: March 2, 2008

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