Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Then and Now

One of my co-workers sent me a very entertaining link yesterday that I just had to share with you. It's on the cnet UK website, and the title of the article is Modern Tech vs. The Past.

The introduction of the article sets it up: "Most of us assume modern life is the peak of human achievement, but is it really? We decided to take a look at the major technologies of the modern world and compare them to their closest equivalent of pre-digital mankind. The results are surprising."

Here are just a few of the comparisons, to whet your appetite to read the entire article...

1. The Internet vs. The Telegram. This is an interesting comparison. One of the stock scenes of old suspense films and plays was the delivery of a telegram, usually by a uniformed messenger, that carried unexpected news crucial to the plot. Now, the ring of the doorbell signaling arrival of a telegram has been replaced by the simple ding! and flashing envelope on the screen that signal receipt of an e-mail. How blah. There's also a very interesting book by Tom Standage titled The Victorian Internet, which is a fast-paced and entertaining look at how the ultra-modern (for the time) technology of the telegraph changed life and expectations in the same way the Internet has today. Check it out.

2. Facebook vs. Dinner Parties. This is a particularly interesting comparison. I love good eating and good conversation, and a well-planned dinner party combines the best of both worlds. One of my former co-workers and his wife used to throw great dinner parties in which they periodically had everyone change seats so that they could interact with new people and keep the flow of conversation interesting. Facebook, as much as I enjoy it for the ability to stay in touch with old and new friends, is one-dimensional and lacks the to-and-fro of good conversation. Facebook beats Twitter hands down, but a good dinner party leaves both of them in the conversational dust.

3. Swine Flu vs. The Plague. We are in a complete panic today over the Swine Flu "pandemic." Posters urging good hygiene are everywhere, and every newscast tells us about another two or three confirmed cases and several deaths. In the Middle Ages Plague, also known as The Black Death killed between 20 and 30 million people - roughly a third of the population of Europe. Yep, Swine Flu is nasty, but I think I'll take it over the Black Death.

4. Science vs. Superstition. Of course, if you're a Republican, there isn't much difference, but that's beside the point. Here's how the article compares science and supersitition: "In the olden days you would go to the doctor with a mild cough, and he would barely contain his excitement. 'Ah, I know what this needs,' he would enthuse, searching among jars of dead beetles and herbs. He would open up your lung with a spoon, chanting, before stuffing a fresh chicken into the gaping wound and declaring you cured. Compare that to modern doctors, who don't have time to even look at you, diagnosing you purely on your smell, using Google's "I'm feeling lucky" button." Nuff said. Gimme science.

Check out the full article and think about the difference between then and now. On the whole, I prefer "now" - it's much cleaner and healthier, and life is a lot easier.

After all, I'd have a rough time posting this blog if I had to scratch each post on clay tablets and hand-deliver them to each of you. Amanda would have a long wait for the latest adventures...

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

My idea of a dinner party is me and book. No conversation and no one to bug me while I chow!

Mal's Team Gherkin said...

One-on-one personal interaction will always win every time, for soul-refreshment, invigorating dialogue, and just plain good fun.

Mike said...

The first line of #4 cracked me up. As far as #2 goes I'm with Mistress to a point. Eating and talking don't go together. Eat first, then talk.