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Silver Surfer Articles
What did you get for Christmas? I got a dongle from my younger son to release me up with my laptop when I’m travelling.  I was pleased and it certainly beats a new pair of socks!  As we sat around after lunch on Christmas day my older son pulled out his iPad which proceeded to be passed around to see who could get the highest score on the latest game. I declined; I know when I’m out of my depth. It’s a sign of the generation that I belong to that I mostly don’t do computer games.  Having said that, I recently saw a survey carried out by a computer magazine which concluded that 31% of us don’t play computer games, so I don’t feel too bad.  I’m a sore loser!  I just don’t have the hours to put in and so I’ll never be as good as my kids, so why bother. (If I told you what number I’ve got to on Freecell that would only confirm which generation I belong to!)

The  Times ran an interesting article last week. It began like this:

How do you know you are not part of the Facebook generation? You like to fax documents. You still play cassettes. You prefer calling from a land-line to a mobile phone. And you still send e-mails.  Figures obtained by The Times show that the use of e-mail is in steady decline, as younger people switch to social networking, texting and instant messaging. According to the statistics from comScore, the market research company, millions of Britons have abandoned visiting e-mail services in the past year, led by the under-25s. Younger users say that e-mail still has its uses — receiving their favourite newsletters or when writing formal messages to strangers. But they also complain that e-mail has more frustrations — in-boxes being stuffed with annoying junk mail and being sent notes from strangers.

OK, I text  but I still send e-mails, simply because I work from a computer at home and sometimes the length of communication makes texting rather long-winded – despite the fact that I can connect my mobile to the computer and type texts in as fast as I type e-mails!   I justify my luddite attitudes by muttering, “Well, with the pace of change, I’ll probably get whatever it is in 6 months and then it will be better than what you have now,” and as true as that might be about technology, they still have a habit of upgrading before I get round to it.  

On a more serious level, Ofcom, the communications regulator, brought out a report back in September 2010  about “Next Generation Services for Older and Disabled people” that declared:

technology can help people who are often at the periphery of our society - such as disabled or older people – to play a more active role in the economy and in their local communities. It can also play a role in helping people remain independent, living in their own home, for longer. For younger disabled people it can play a key role in ensuring their lives are as diverse and media‐rich as their non‐disabled peers. Text messaging has revolutionised the lives of young deaf people on the move in the past decade.  Next generation broadband has the potential to deliver the same impact in the home.

It later talked about “Self-learning at home: Vital Assistance for the Elderly project”  stating:

“VITAL will develop a tele-education platform that will allow the presentation of multimedia courses specifically designed for the elderly: cooking, household activities, etc.  As opposed to existing practice in the iTV world, the platform will be generic and will allow the presentation of multiple titles within the same application. The client application will consist of a sort of multimedia blackboard that can be commanded using voice or the remote controller. The client interface will support resizable fonts according to the user preferences, text with audio feedback, etc. The server side will include tools for easy creation and management of the courses. The system may automatically suggest and subscribe users to the courses according to his profile. A course searcher will be also included. The platform can be used to deliver all sorts of multimedia material; such as: documentaries, movies, etc. The objective of this application will be to provide education for self-caring, self-learning/self-satisfaction and entertainment.”  
(source:; accessed 04/03/10)

The world of the computer, if you could plough your way through that lot, is about to change incredibly over the coming years for our generation. Perhaps I had better throw away my luddite feelings and get ready for the revolution.  Will I suffer from ‘future shock’. I hope not. My three kids, firmly ensconced in their culture have played their part in helping me handle the things that are coming tomorrow but are here now. Come on, keep up!

Quote: “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.”
(Source: Stewart Brand)
8. The Generational Divide (Written after Christmas)

Back in the 1970’s one of my favourite books was Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock which was all about “the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time,” or, if you like, struggling to cope with the future arriving today. As modern Christmas presents fall into the category of new technology, I was put in mind of this as Christmas came and went.