"Mobile phones are where computers were thirty years ago," wrote Erick Schonfeld, co-editor of TechCrunch, in 2008(click here).
Thirty years ago--that's 1980, the dawn of the PC era, when Radio Shack was king of the mountain, with its product that resembled a cash register. There I acquired my first computer skills, nudged by my father, a visionary who had also installed solar collectors that provided us with luke-warm showers, but who really needs hot showers anyway?
He had jumped on the visionary bandwagon and remained fiercely loyal to Radio Shack until he died in 1993, right before the Internet was born, a medium he would have loved.
The first word processors required programming that usually didn't work. Remember that green and white striped paper that rolled out of our daisy wheel printers?
I envisioned a word-processing program that turned out to be Microsoft Word, still the king of that genre. Just type onto a blank white screen and print out your content onto an 8-1/2 by 11 sheet of paper.
So whether it's the iPhone or the Android, computers will soon be palm-sized. What will result for those who are visually impaired? That's on the list somewhere, no doubt, but not at the top.
At this point I must repeat a DC anecdote many of you have already heard about--the tale of a teenager who fell into an open manhole while texting--in other words, not looking where she was going. The guys under the sidewalk had left it open for just a few seconds--even that was against the rules. But at the trial, the point was made that the teen should have been looking where she was going. It's one thing to walk down the street jabbering on cellphones, but quite another, a new era, when texting can be hazardous to your hardware. Cell phones, when used copiously, threaten brain disease,
But everything in our society is toxic, even love. Somehow the Arctic Wildlife Refuge is still an oasis for nonhuman, non-microscopic creatures who are choking on environmental damage everywhere else. But the writer of that article didn't consider that the Polar Ice Cap is melting. Surely the two events are related. I hope not. I'm no environmentalist.
But from the untainted wilderness back to that pinnacle of twenty-first-century advancement, the ultimate gadget. How will that affect the burgeoning obesity of our children in this fattest country in the world? Not that other countries, even pre-industrial ones, aren't also hooked.
Human posture will evolve, first epigenetically, as we all develop dowagers' humps from walking down the street computing, sitting on public transit computing, and surely a way will be invented to compute while driving--my Verizon Razzle was designed for drivers, I discovered, though I avoid texting while driving. The Scands were paying all their bills with cell phones ten years ago, way ahead of us.
My math IQ descended years ago with the advent of portable calculators back in the seventies. Will sidewalks and streets have to be redesigned?
No more spontaneous running into friends walking down the street, because we'll all be computing. No more conversations on public transportation. No more discussing the weather because we can pull that up with a quick flick.
The nature of conversations will change entirely. No more questions will be asked, because Wiki will be constantly at our fingertips for objective information and statistics, and blogs for opinions. No more eye contact. We'll stand opposite each other hitting those minuscule brains--kwerties are evolving into touchscreens already. Perhaps the shape of our hands will evolve.
The palm-brains will become waterproof, so that we can swim or bathe with them.
How will this miraculous advancement in civilization affect our love lives? Will there be enough accessible porn that we'll sublimate electronically?