April 01, 2011

Technology in My Lifetime

todd_S_2010aBy Todd Schoepflin

It’s amazing to reflect on the technology I’ve encountered in my lifetime. I think back to my childhood when I’d go with friends to the mall arcade and play Galaga and Pac-Man. Most of my friends and I owned Atari back then. We’d play Frogger and Donkey Kong for hours on end.

By the time I was in middle school I had a 13-inch TV and a phone in my bedroom. So I had my own space to watch TV and call girls. But privacy was limited in those days: if anyone else in the house wanted to make a call, they’d pick up another phone and suddenly interrupt the conversation. My parents and brother shared the phone line, so someone usually had to wait to use the phone. It was an exercise in patience, and communication with peers was neither immediate nor constant.

The 13-inch TV worked long enough for me to bring it to college in 1990. I remember watching Cheers in my dorm room and the early years of The Simpsons in the recreation room with other freshmen. My freshmen year in college was the first time I wrote a paper using a computer. It was also the year I began using e-mail, mostly to send notes to my new girlfriend.

I kept in touch with people from high school by writing letters and postcards. It was a way of saving money because most phone calls then cost extra for being phone%20-%20then“long distance.” It wasn’t until my sophomore year in college that I bought my first compact disc--so long, cassette tapes! Grunge and hip-hop were the music of the day. Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg were favorites on campus and in bars.

None of us had cell phones, so social life was usually unplanned. Although I could reasonably guess where I could find my friends if I wanted to meet them, there was no way of being sure where people were hanging out. Plans you made earlier in the day often changed. So a lot of times you just showed up at a house party  or bar and hoped to see familiar faces.

I got my first computer in 1995 and brought it with me to graduate school. I began using the Internet on a regular basis, but the web was only a baby then. I have no recollection of favorite websites in those days, and surfing the web took forever because there weren’t high speed connections. By the time the 1990s ended, I still didn’t have a cell phone.

Fast forward to 2011. It’s hard for me to grasp all the technology we have in the 21st century. Aside from television, Facebook is probably the most powerful technological force in my lifetime. It’s incredible to me that people document their lives on Facebook. I watch in amazement from a distance; I still don’t have a Facebook page.

phone%20-%20now I have enough distractions in my life (television being at the top of the list) so I’ve avoided Facebook. But I definitely understand its appeal. Facebook seems to be proof that we truly are social beings. We thrive on being connected to others and being part of a crowd. People can’t wait to share their latest picture or status update. Whenever my wife tells me to look at something interesting on her Facebook page, I see my peers posting pictures of their children and offering every little detail of their lives. Facebook really has blurred the line between front-stage and back-stage. And Facebook has already secured an important part in history, especially if we consider the part it played in the recent uprising in Egypt. An Egyptian family even named their baby Facebook in recognition of the site’s role in the protests.

We also have the bizarre world of Twitter. I’m not sure what to make of Twitter, but if I had to explain it to someone from another planet, I guess I’d say celebrities seem to love it and everybody (famous or otherwise) has a chance to broadcast their thoughts or whereabouts in 140 characters or less. I use Twitter to post links to songs that I like (or old pop songs that amuse me, like this one) and to try to say something clever once in a while.

On a daily basis I take advantage of technological luxuries like a flat screen television, a cell phone, the netbook I used to produce this blog, and satellite radio. I can’t remember the last time I bought a newspaper; I read my news online. I don’t spend a lot of time in bookstores because almost any book I could ever want is available at Amazon.com. Instead of going to record stores, I use iTunes. I used to go to Blockbuster to rent videos; now I get them through Netflix.

I often think about what’s coming next with regard to technology. What are the future forms of communication? How will technology continue to change the ways we interact? How will it influence what we consume? How will it influence our work? What will be the next Facebook? The next YouTube? What comes after Skype? What will replace text messaging? How big can televisions get, anyway? How small can computers get? How fast can they make the Internet?

Most of us have no clue about the answers to these questions, but anyone reading this blog surely is impacted by technology. How is technology a force in your life? Do you always embrace it or try to limit its power? Finally, how do you imagine it will change in your lifetime?


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I have to laugh because I was in the same boat back in the day. We thought the Atari Tennis game was goingto be as good as it gets. Then when Donkey Kong came out we thought the same thing. That there was absolutely nothing which could top it. Now it seems like every other day something new comes out.

As for how fast the internet can go we're about to find that out too. I hear Google is relaeasing a broadband service supposedly 110x faster than anything out there.

After reading the blog entry my mind is racing. Call waiting or a three-way phone conversation were so big and now just taken for granted. Here is my take: technology today has the opportunity to bring us together while keeping us apart. We don't need to visit or have drink together when we can just send a text or search facebook. So, yes we are social beings being rather unsociable.

Even though i'm 18 i remeber my brothers, me, along with my parents, playing mario, donkey kong, galaca together on an intendo player. Its weird how when i was in elemenatary school and younger cd players and cds were all the rage, but now its dvds,i-pods, i-phones, and some cds and cd players. Its so strange how time goes by so quickly and how technology can change as well.

Good read. I think the biggest trend is that every piece of technology is getting more social. They've already transformed the ways in which we interact with our friends and now, unfortunately, every business is trying to use these same channels to bombard us with targeted recommendations. I believe the big guns such as Facebook and Youtube are now so influential that they won't go away, but rather continue to evolve for a world that's increasingly on-the-go and using mobile devices.

Oh, and we can probably say goodbye to non-internet TV at some point. Hopefully professional journalism won't meed the same fate!

I think you have very good points here. I feel like all the technology that is coming out now is helping us stay together even when we can't be. I have a friend that moved to California and through facebook and text messaging, I am able to stay in contact with her. Even things that are somewhat new are changing. DVD's are something that has come about in my lifetime (I am 17) and now it is getting overtaken by Blueray disks and digital copies of movies. It's amazing how fast things can change.

This post was really interesting. Your description on the advancements in technology were fairly thorough. I find it almost frightening how quickly technology has advanced. It seems that something we rely on now won't be the same thing we rely on in a year. First there were landline telephones, and now most communication is done through text messages or facebook posts. It seems that as the country becomes more reliant upon technology, then our social life will adapt to the newly accepted normalities. The more humans rely on technology for communication, the more socially awkward the human race becomes. I can imagine a time (not too far from now) in which families only communicate through nonverbal messages and rarely eat dinner together or discuss their days. People tend to prefer texts over phone calls, and people tend to prefer a phone call over actually talking to someone in person. As we continue to shy away from physical conversations, the important of communicating in person declines. Without verbal conversation, the aspect of hearing how sentences are phrased and hand gestures are completely lost; therefore, many misunderstandings are likely to occur. I realize that I have strayed from the main topic. I really enjoyed this blog. Thanks.

It shocks me too to see the changes in society through out the years. I am fortunate enough to have all of this technology to make my social life easier. It it crazy to me to hear that you had it was completely different to make plans. As for me, I call or facebook a friend and I can see them within the next few hours. I do believe that our society had depended on society too much, and would not be able to survive without it because we've adapted to it so much. I agree with you when you say that there is always going to be advancements, what is the new facebook? the new youtube? Those are great questions that will be eventually answered....

I am a teenager and technology has greatly increased in my lifetime! I remember listening to cassette tapes when I was little and now I don't even, like the author said, go to a record store anymore because all of the music I get is usually off of iTunes. I can remember yelling across the yard to my neighbor when I wanted to come over or had them over to play. Now we have cell phones to call or text each other. It is so simple to get ahold of someone now whether it be using a cell phone to text, call, or get on Facebook or Twitter. This is making us less social but more social at the same time because a person with a Facebook or Twitter account is always connected. Even if you have a cell phone, you are still pretty connected to the outside world. The questions at the end of the article really make the reader wonder the answers to them. What's next in this technological era that we live in?

In my sociology class I had to interview 3 of my elders and I think every single one talked about atari games! It's absolutely amazing how quickly things change in the technology world. A few years ago I was buying cd's now it's like cd? What's that? Is that what cavemen used? It is crazy how much technology can bring people together and seperate people so much at the same time. I can check up on cousins from around the world but at the same time I would probably be ignoring my family.

An interesting article and I have to admit that technology has changed allot during my life term, despite that I'm still in my mid-twenties. I remember when I first went to college is when I really got stuck down in using a PC and Windows operating system, and all assignments where to be done electronically and printed, we then had floppy disks, which slowly got replaced by CD-RW and eventually now by portable hard drives and USB pen disks.

I do too think of how technology will change going into the future, Mobile phones have seem to become more into the frame work than any other technology. I believe its only a matter of time until we will be using our mobiles for almost everything, buying, accessing internet, watching movies / TV and so on.

I wonder if you wrote this post again in 10 years time, what difference would I see?

Technology has always been a force in my life, and it seems when it is interrupted I don't know how to act. I have just recently moved to an area that doesn't get very good cell phone service, my family has certain areas in the house marked with tape. If we put our cell on the specific area marked by tape we can get text messages. Pretty pathetic, it isn't the phone that we want to use it's the texting-Something about holding a conversation on a phone is less interesting.I remember hearing a busy signal on a phone and asking my mom what that noise was, I thought the phone was broken. Most people I called when I did call way back then, had call waiting. I am sure in my lifetime technology will change but who knows where it will go.

When I started reading the post, I started thinking back to when I was young. It sounds like Todd and I grew up right around the same time. I remember using a rotary phone and I also had an Atari and Commadore 64. I think about the technology through the years and remember pagers, black and white tv's, 8-track players and even Reel to Reel's! Now I have become so reliant on technology like everyone else. I mean think about when someone looses their cell phone. They start to freak out, not because "I got to pay for another cell phone", but because "How can I function and get through the day without it!" The internet, text messaging and emails have become a way of life, not just a tool. I do have to say that technology has made things less personal between people. Most of the time now you only call someone because they haven't answered your text or email. But, we still look for the next greatest and latest technology.

I am always amazed when I think of how far we have come in terms of technology. It is astounding. I think that technology has led to so many different results, some good and some bad. People now communicate so much more than they used too, and communcation has changed. It is much less personal but much more common. I am not sure if I think this is good or bad. I am sure it will change in a few years though, when things become even more advanced.
-Ashley Byykkonen

Although I am only 17, I have seen when my brothers would play nintendo and sega and we thought that those were so sweet, but now it is even more technical. Now we have ipods and phones with the internet on them. I will be amazed to see where technology will take us next.

In my sociology class, we have been studying social change and social movements. The evolution of technology definitely drives social change. It's interesting how technology has changed social interactions. It is now easier to communicate with friends and family. There is more privacy with the invention of cell phones. Individuals can have private lives at younger ages. Facebook has allowed social experiences to occur online. Cultural changes have occurred. It is now normal to spend many hours on a computer. Many of these changes seem to be unintended, especially the ones related to the Internet. Technology grows exponentially and it is difficult to predict which form it will take next. Movies and television shows have attempted to show future technology, but it is never absolutely correct. Some of the basic purposes have aligned correctly with future technology. However, the design was often incorrect. The leaps in technology amaze me.

Technology has definitely advanced and has influenced social change greatly in our country. The influence of technology occurs like the domino effect. The invention of a chip causes the invention of the computer, the invention of the computer influences the creation of the internet, the internet opens up to provide for hundreds of social networks and so on. With each step comes social evolution. Technology changes the way we go about things in our lives and influences the way we interact with others along the way.

It's amazing how technology change so fast, right? From Pacman to Mario Bros. to Guitar hero and etc. I remember my Dad used to have this very big mobile phone (it was like a hair flat iron) with no texting feature (only calls). Comparing it to what we have today just makes me feel grateful, too grateful that we can all connect to long time friends and far away relatives. And not just that, we can even see them through video calls which at least eases our longing for them.

Oh Dr. Schoepflin... you and your technology. I'm surprised you don't have Facebook! (Angela Anderson here!)

Anyway, I am a huge technology geek. When I was 13 (1993, I had a pager. My friends and I all had different codes that meant different things. My boyfriend and I would page (I typed text first, heh) 45683969 to say I love you and we would end with a dash and our "signature" which was ones birth month.

When I was 17 (1997), I got my first cell phone. It was a big bulky Motorola and was for emergencies only. Whenever the newest phone would come out, I had to have it. I have an iPhone now and love it. I'm pretty much on the phone or laptop all the time. When I'm not taking care of two babies, anyway.

My senior year in high school, 1999, we had a computer at home. I worked for a small internet business so we had free Internet at home. It was supposedly unlimited, but the owner didn't appreciate my dad never logging out. It was super slow. I went to chat rooms. No MySpace or Facebook or Twitter.

I got my very own computer and digital camera in 2000 and spent a lot of time on it. And I've spent a lot of time on computers up until this very day.

My friend and I text every day. My kids (who don't even know what a cassette tape or regular camera looks like!) Skype with their grandparents (we moved to San Antonio) regularly. I practically live on Facebook. I laughed while reading about how Facebook has changed front-stage and back-stage. It certainly holds true for me. I actually updated my Facebook regularly while in labor with Victoria and Grant (nothing gory, just updates!). My friends from out of state can watch my kids grow up because I post pictures almost daily. While you avoid FB and watch TV, I watch only one show on TV and spend too much time on FB. It has become an outlet for me. The computer screen is like a barrier for me. Things that I share or say online, I probably wouldn't in person. It has really allowed me to show the back-stage of my life more. Sometimes, though, it can be too much. I recently put up an old picture of me and people from my past commented on it and we relived some stuff, but eventually I pulled it because it simply was too much information. I do that periodically. Realize I'm revealing too much of myself. It is interesting because if I'm down and someone asks in person how I'm doing, I give the standard response, "I'm fine." If someone online asks me, I tell them the truth.

Ok, I'm just rambling at this point. This post really got me thinking, I guess. It will be interesting to see where technology goes. I can't imagine it getting even more advanced, but I would have said that 20, even 10, years ago.

Fascinating topic. :)

I think it is really interesting how you went through a time continuum of technology from when you were a child all the way up until today. It really did an amazing job of emphasizing how much invention has changed the way we go about with our lives. Technology has shaped the way we share information and how we gather it. It has changed how we communicate and connect. It is hard to imagination where we would be without things like the internet and cell phones. Or how much we would know about each other without Twitter and Facebook. How would fighters overseas communicate with their loved ones without Skype? Of course letter writing and postcards still exist, but many refer to that as being cliche. Its remarkable how something such as technology could lead to so much social change and be such a contribution to the world itself. I really enjoyed your post and it really was very interesting and informative. This topic is always one full thoughts to share.

i totally agree on how much technology has changed. Its scary to think that technology could even just take over one day. Many objects are continuing to be improved day after day.

I agree with you that reflecting on the technology we have experienced in our lifetime is very interesting. It also reminds us how older we have grown, with the many fast tracked changes in technology. From mobile phones the size of some one foot, now we have slim smart phones, fast internet and gadgets to improve our lifestyle. You have shared so many memories from your past with technology. Social networks have continued to make the world a smaller place, with communication much easier and more accessible.

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