How comfortable are you with technology?

I don’t have any recollections of our home without video games.

In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is playing Breakout on an Atari console with my mother. It wasn’t just video games, either. My father got us a personal computer in the early 90’s, and we quickly became comfortable with operating systems.

Our comfort with technology was by design. My parents encouraged our foray into the digital age. They were both excited about the prospects of tech, and they helped us experiment with it as much as possible. It was a good time to experiment too, as the world went online, as mobile phones became ubiquitous, and later, as tabs and smartphones became the norm.

It becomes more interesting when you put it in perspective.

I am that lost generation between being a digital native and a digital immigrant. As a child growing up in a foreign city, I had to send physical letters to my grandmother, aunt, and cousins in Amman with pictures and drawings. When I was in high school, information was accessible with the burgeoning web, but it was no where near as ubiquitous as it is today. I still had to go to the library to get credible information about most topics. When I was in university, I always had a book in my car to entertain myself while stuck in traffic. Imagine that… I could not look at my phone for momentary entertainment, because the world did not yet have constantly-connected smartphones.

Yet, across all stages of my life, thanks to the attitude my parents nurtured us to have, I welcomed world-changing technology. Hello, computer. Hello, Internet. Hello, MP3. Hello, laptops. Hello, wi-fi! Hello, Facebook. Hello, iPhone. Hello, apps. Hello, 3G. Hello! Hello! Hello!

Today, I watch babies too young to speak completely bedazzled with iPads and smartphones, given to them by parents who are just happy to get some peace and quite. It’s amazing for me to see how these little babies instinctively know where to click and how to click. It’s like they were born with a sense that you and I were not born with. It’s amazing.

Which brings me back to parents. When I was a child, my parents had to consciously (and expensively!) design my environment with as much technology as possible. These days, babies share the attention of their parents with technology. Here’s a random collection of images I found when googling “Mother” and “technology”:

I know, TV. It’s different though. Technology before the Web was one-way communication. You had to teach your child to change the channel, and the TV never interacted back. With mobile apps and laptops, toddlers play with a device that communicates back and never gets impatient. Like this game designed for babies:

It is fascinating.

Is it bad? Is it good? I don’t know, but given the person I am, I lean towards it being good.

It’s certainly worth thinking about, though.

An Awareness of the Universe

Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. Since the dawn of time, roughly a hundred billion human beings have walked the planet Earth.

Now this is an interesting number, for by a curious coincidence there are approximately a hundred billion stars in our local universe, the Milky Way. So for every man who has ever lived, in this Universe there shines a star.

But every one of those stars is a sun, often far more brilliant and glorious than the small, nearby star we call the Sun. And many – perhaps most – of those alien suns have planets circling them. So almost certainly there is enough land in the sky to give every member of the human species, back to the first ape-man, his own private, world-sized heaven – or hell.

How many of those potential heavens and hells are now inhabited, and by what manner of creatures, we have no way of guessing; the very nearest is a million times farther away than Mars or Venus, those still remote goals of the next generation.

The intro to Arthur C. Clarke’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”

I suffer from a very strong case of yugen.