How Two Generations Have Changed The World
My grandparents lived in back-to-back housing, with outside toilets, and no hot water.
The height of technology available to them was the Wireless. No, not “Wifi Internet Connection“. Radio. The BBC News Broadcast.
When one says “Almost 100 years ago …”, it is easy to think “oh, back in the Olden Days“, but my grandparents, that I knew and loved, lived through that.
Although Electricity Suppliers were available, they were expensive and diverse, and it was not until 1935 the the National Grid was created, and it was unreliable until the ’60s. Houses were lit by gas, or candles, and most household tasks, such as laundry and cleaning were done by hand. There were no Automatic Washing Machines, or Dishwashers, or even Vacuum Cleaners.
Penicillin was not invented until 1928, and took years to be available to the general public. “The Youth of Today” do not realise what a Big Thing this is. Infections that we now think of as minor were considered Killers. My own father spent time as a child in an Isolation Hospital with Scarlet Fever.
So, your web-page is taking an extra 5 seconds to load? Cry me a river!
Everyone sees the world through their own experiences.
My dad regales anyone who will listen with his tale of my nephew (his grandson. Now in his early 20s) asking what my dad’s first mobile phone was like, when he was a kid … cue “When I were a lad ...” Pythonesque rant. He had to walk down the street to a public telephone box. (For our younger readers, this is a Land Line, shared with everyone, situated at the Village Green. You had to pre-pay shilling coins. People did not have their own land-line! ) But I digress. This is “New-Fangled Gadgets”
While I bemoaned my parents’ frugality (read: stinginess) regarding a VHS recorder, today’s hard-done-by children are rationed Mobile Phone credit and have curfews on their games consoles.
The youth of today have grown up with microprocessor technology. My niece had a mobile phone in her cot on Day One (playing soothing womb-sounds). Why would she not think everyone did?
Even those of us who remember dial-up internet (and its interminable screeching) now get frustrated at a 5-second delay on web-pages loading, or ‘buffering’ on our Netflix movies.
Time moves ever on, and we judge our relative position against those around us, not those who came before.
While my grandparents would be astounded at the technological accomplishments that we have made, and the ready availability of such, my generation will likely be just as amazed at what the next advancements will be.
From the 4″-9″ TV sets used to view the coronation of King George in 1937 to the 49″+ sets now used to watch ‘celebrities’ eating bugs, we have come a long way. Where next? There is talk of home projectors, or even Active Wallpaper, able to turn an entire wall of your living-room into a video display.
Our current Super-Fast broadband will be the poor-man’s speed of the 2020s. But what will this mean? Comparing to previous technology, we struggled to stream video, yet now it is expected, and even my parents have upgraded so that they can both be watching different programs (What? TWO computers? Are these people Aristocrats, or Merchant-Princes? Actually, they also have a laptop AND an iPad!) without buffering. They also both have mobile phones, which, in my opinion, are the major step forwards, and where the advancements will come.
On The Move
Imagine, if you can, dear reader, a time when all of the peoples of the world will carry a device that links them to every other person on the planet. At the touch of a button, they can call forth any piece of information from the Global Databases, read any book ever written, watch any movie ever made, or listen to any music ever recorded. The latest news from even the furthest reaches of the world are broadcast immediately to all of these devices. All of the Academic courses, History, Geography, Mathematics, Philosophy, the Arts, are there in your hand, and even Teachers available to discuss with.
That time, my friends, is upon us!
Even my dad’s most basic of mobile ‘phone’s is capable of full internet access, and although its on-board processor is limited, it can off-load much of the work to online servers, storing photos and documents in The Cloud, utilising the network of “4G” Mobile Masts around the country.
The communicators, and even ‘tri-corders’ that Captain Kirk relied upon so much pale besides our “Phones”.
I have friends who no longer even use a Home Computer, their phones and tablets providing all of the functionality they need to survive a Modern Lifestyle, and the next generation will consider our desktop PCs quite quaint!
There may be black-spots, and no-signal zones, but these are disappearing fast. Optical Fibre connections are being rolled out to even the most remote locations. Soon there will be no place without constant, reliable connection to the Global Village!
When the youngest of our families become grandparents, what marvels will the new generation be privy to?
It is my opinion that:
- The Internet, mobile phones, etc are a natural progression from Marconi’s initial radio experiments, and Shokley et al‘s transistors.
- We are still in the early days. Compare to other technologies in our homes: TV is nearly 100 years old. Radio even older. Electric lighting 150 years. We have a long way to go before Instant Global Communication is considered a mature technology, and it’s social effects (little touched upon here) are fully felt.