This week, my Dad celebrated his 85th birthday and I was so happy to have spent it with him in Seattle. We had another fabulous conversation (see my earlier blog post) about the exponential changes taking place in the information age. Born in 1926, my Dad can remember a world that is nothing like our world today. Old sayings like, “the more things change, the more they stay the same” or “there’s nothing new under the sun” may still apply to universal human situations; however, the revolutionary changes we are seeing in technology are, in my father’s words, “sometimes frightening”. Perhaps there now IS something new under the sun! Or, perhaps now- the more things change, the more they change again!
I think what impressed me most about our conversation was the wisdom in my father’s eyes. Even though times are uncertain and unlike any before, his acceptance of a higher power brings a calmness to the stormy sea of chaos.
On the flight back home, I was reading The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood. James Gleick points out that technology has caused discomfort throughout the history of communication. For example, when people began sending messages by telegraph in the 1840’s, they worried about privacy. “Compared to handwritten letters, folded and sealed with wax, the whole affair seemed public and insecure– the messages passing along those mysterious conduits, the electric wires” (Gleick, 2011, p. 145). So, both statements seem true– everything has changed yet everything seems the same. Each generation wonders what this world is coming to! We all grow into parents who worry about the future for our children.
I enjoy learning in this new age of information with all the new exciting new media formats. Yet, I also worry. My worries include entering The Shallows (next book on my list- which deals with what the Internet is doing to our brains) and investigating literature about the singularity. When I get to the scary parts, I shall remember the wisdom in my father’s eyes and his acceptance of a higher power.