Before there was Snapchat.
Before there was Facebook.
Before there was FaceTime.
Before there was Twitter.
Before there were iPhones.
Before there were iPods.
Before there were webcams.
Back in ye olden, early days of the Internet, I remember once receiving an email that told me that my computer screen could take a picture of me. It told me that after clicking, there would be a countdown and then – SNAP – my picture would be taken. Of course, I did not believe it. Not one bit.
And yet… I wanted to believe.
Okay, I decided, I’ll play along. I know it’s not real. But… what if? What if it’s actually true? That would be so cool. I mean, these computers and this Internet thing are amazing, so you never know.
As instructed, I leaned in close. Smiled. Waited for the countdown … and then FLASH! Wow. Did it work?? The picture was starting to develop and come into focus. And —wah-wah… A dopey picture of a cow’s face filled the screen.
How could I fall for such an obvious prank? How can your computer take your picture?
Well, maybe I wasn’t a fool, but a dreamer. Looking back, I’d like to think I was able to see into the future. A future in which your computer CAN take your picture. Now we live in an age where most pictures are taken with phones. Phones!
Webcams are now, of course, ubiquitous. They’ve long ago jumped the shark from novel to creepy. The movie “Snowden” convinced me to keep a piece of black tape over mine and I only remove it when I absolutely need to for a Zoom conference or a Skype interview.
The view of the future when I was a kid feels so retro now. While I wish I got to meet George Jetson, Jane (his wife), daughter Judy and his boy Elroy, I am now living in a world that’s more advanced than theirs. Well, except for the flying cars.
While we don’t have flying cars just yet, the idea of a driverless car goes really far back. Every breakthrough technology starts out as just an idea. Someone has to have the audacity to imagine the impossible. One day in the future, when the road is full of driverless cars, we will think it quaint that cars once had to be driven by people.
Think of it. No more driving tests. No more driver’s licenses. No more DMV?? Text all you want – if texting is still a thing.
How about your entire music collection in your pocket? That’s a lot of cassettes… or CDs. Even my baggiest cargo pants wouldn’t have been able to hold all that. My Walkman, and later my Discman, couldn’t do that.
I loved the iPod. That’s “loved” as in past tense. We’ve already moved past the iPod with all the music streaming from our phones. Phones!
In my mind, one of the truly greatest advances is GPS. No more paper maps – whether it’s a Rand McNally folded in your glove compartment or printed directions from Mapquest – and the car talks to you!
I’ve always prided myself on having a good sense of direction, but now it doesn’t matter. My long since discarded Garmin is ancient history already. The car itself has GPS. Or for more accurate real-time directions, we use our phone. Again… phones!
When I hear about “ridiculous” concepts like singularity, I don’t scoff. Instead, I anxiously await the future’s arrival. As a creative person, it’s important that I believe in the ridiculous. New ideas always seem crazy at first.
Here’s to the crazy ones. And those who believe in them.
One final note about the cow email: Of course, I forwarded it. The old-timey version of a retweet.