Most people marvel at how much our lives have changed. We have our own personal phone numbers (assigned to us by employers or phone services), that we respond to 24/7 by voice or in writing on tiny keyboards embedded in hand-held computers that are so miniscule and so frequently lost that most of us have insurance policies in case that happens. Everything we do is documented in photos and/or videos, sometimes with unfortunate and life-changing results. Robots do lots of factory work now. (A recent auto industry report says that American car makers are 39 percent more productive than just five years ago. You may have noticed we don't have 39 percent more jobs.) Researching anything from the price of a food processor to the banality of evil takes a couple days instead of two weeks to life.
Many experiences that used to be horribly inefficient are amazingly easy --- you can make an appointment at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles --- you can take a class at Stanford University Engineering Everywhere in the Artificial Intelligence Department for free. If you suddenly decide you want to see a certain television show, or read particular a book or build a scale model of your house in 3-D and assign color and furniture to it—even if it's three o'clock in the morning, it doesn't matter—you can just do it. I don't miss writing checks or balancing a bank account or keeping track of little scraps of paper organized in a shoebox, who would? (Although my handwriting is unbelievably awful.) You can wear a bracelet designed by one of Apple's main design vendors that tells you how well you slept, how much exercise you got, where you need work and encouragement and who your friends are waiting to help you. Or you can stay up all night to binge-watch an entire season or two of your favorite television shows like Kathy MacNeil has. Or go on Skype like Carrie Steinweg suggests to spend an evening with your spouse who's in another city on a consulting job for a few days.
Innovation and change have done nothing but improve my life. One of the biggest changes I've lived to see is our culture becoming more transparent and arguably more honest. As much as I look forward to taking my grandchildren to see their first Shakespeare play, I also look forward to the possibility that their schools may not have desks, but table top computers that teach through some combination of critical thinking, manipulation and visual presentation magic. I just got on Tumblr. I love it now, but social networks are sort of like hot new restaurants. After a few years, they are unbearably crowded, overly-intrusive and just not worth it. You get restless and find the next best thing.
But I'm also impressed by those remarkable things that endure: Traveling and discovering another world like Jane Ammeson does so frequently. The ability to find the most fantastic-tasting olive oil at any grocery store. After years of trial and error, outsmarting wildlife, changing careers, husbands and domiciles, Denise DeClue reflects on wins, losses and the authentic stuff of life.
Ultimately there is such joy in reading, writing, communicating and knowing you are not in it alone. (Baby Boomers are never alone.)
As teens we talked on the phone incessantly, as young adults we used to hang out in bars and coffee shops, now we text and send links to the stories we blog about. There's always more to learn. That's why there's Prime.
Associate Publisher and Editor
Join prime (logo) on Facebook (logo)
Follow Pat Colander @shorefan on Twitter (logo)
Keep up with Pat Colander middleagezz on Tumblr. (logo)
Contact prime via email at email@example.com