Monday, January 28, 2008

Oh, the Good Ole Days...

I know I'm not that old, but one of the recurring things I think about is how things change so quickly. Mostly, I think about literal "things," like technology and stuff we use on a daily basis and can't imagine life without. Here's a sample:

Parking Meters:
Remember when parking meters weren't digital? They were more manual, analog, even. The little hand just ticked off your time. Then they went to fancy-pants digital ones that were broken more often than not. You put your money in, they flashed how much time you had (usually like 2 minutes per coin), and then flashed red when the time was expired. Or flashed "out of order" if they were broken.

And there was always the awesome Berkeley tradition of chopping the heads off of the meters, regardless of old-school or new-school style. Then, the parking enforcement people themselves came and severed the heads themselves. Decapitated, block by block, in Oakland and Berkeley. Some of them, they just sucked the brains out, leaving empty shells of meters behind. Instead, they installed those "pay first, put receipts in your windshield" kind.
These are nice in some ways- you don't always have to have 8000 quarters handy, and you don't have to worry about getting a bogus ticket due to broken meter (this happened to me yesterday). On the other hand, it's really easy to park and forget to buy a little receipt thingy, and it can be frustrating to walk half a block to buy a ticket. But, I'm sure the day is coming soon when I forget that the green and red tabs in meters ever existed.

Digital Cameras:
This one is huge, and so ingrained now that I think it's really easy to forget it.
Sometimes when I think of life pre-digital, I feel like the dude behind the curtain, telling my subjects to hold it, no, REALLY hold it, for about 7 minutes, unblinking and unsmiling, till I can get the frame just right. And remember the expense of film, and getting film developed? I was never even crazy photography girl, I just liked to take pictures sometimes. But it was pricey to do that. Now, I can take hundreds of photos to get just one good picture, and that's free. Everyone's a photographer now, which has it's upsides and downsides, I guess. Things like shelter photos have improved adoptions vastly in combination with the internet: people from all over can see what animals are in the shelter and identify lost pets or pets they may be interested in adopting. A good photo can help the animal out the door. On the other hand, I'm nostalgic, and a little suspicious. I spend hours poking around on, with all of these awesome photos, and I can't help wondering: are these pictures real? What is "real" now, when it comes to photography? If a picture was created digitally on a digital camera, and was moved to a computer, and then digitally manipulated, how far can it be digitally manipulated before becoming something else entirely? And how do I know when looking at it if the photographer saw anything remotely resembling what I am seeing now? And does it matter?

Cell Phones:
Man, I fought this one for a long time. I'm still fighting this one, in my own way, as I have the smallest, jankiest phone that I can find. I desperately want this phone that I've seen a couple times on info-mercials on the TV at my parent's house, but I think they only sell it to old people who are incapable of using cell phones designed for people of my generation. I'm close, but not close enough. I'm capable, but barely. It's got like 3 buttons, and one dials the operator, who, according to the commercial, says "Hi, Nice Mrs. So-and-So, who can I connect to you to today?" Anyway, I don't have that phone, I have the one with only the numbers 0-9, and like two other buttons. It doesn't take pictures, it doesn't receive pictures, it doesn't connect to the internet, it doesn't do anything else fancy. My best friend taught me how to send text messages a couple years ago, and I have mastered that enough to be obnoxious about it, but that's about it. I have seen a couple of iPhones and I will say, they're pretty cool, and I've been tempted to look things up on the internet when I'm out and about, but the temptation leaves me when I think of what a cell phone addict I have become and what a cell phone addicted society in general we've become. Remember when we walked down the street, just walking, not talking to people on the phone? Remember when we could drive without making phone calls? Remember what it was like to go to work and not talk to anyone not work related because we only had a home phone and we didn't check our answering machine till we got home? And I still can't get over the camera phone thing. Remember what it was like to just SEE something and not need to see it though a cell phone? I was at an A's game last year with fireworks afterwards. This was one of the most surreal events ever: thousands of people seated on the field and thousands of tiny blue screens pointed towards the fireworks. It was like they couldn't see the show if they weren't taking phone pictures of it.


Principal and Founder said...

Yes, you definetly need a new phone!