Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!” This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for. We all know that at some point in the future the Universe will come to an end and at some other point, considerably in advance from that but still not immediately pressing, the sun will explode. We feel there’s plenty of time to worry about that, but on the other hand that’s a very dangerous thing to say.—Douglas Adams, Speech
Douglas Adams, whose Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was one of the most risible landmarks in my young life, came up with three predictors as to what technologies people will accept. My version comes from the Futility Closet website:
- Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
- Anything that’s invented between when you’re 15 and 35 is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
- Anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things.
Reading the above sends a chill racing up and down my spine. I accepted computers around the age of 20 and, in fact, found myself a career in computing.
But do I accept tweeting and touch-screen smartphones? No. Will I ever accept them? Possibly. I’ve accepted Facebook, but only with great suspicion and periodic reviews of security parameters. And I use Facebook primarily for announcing new blogs and flagging the books I am currently reading via Goodreads.Com.