When I joined IBM’s public relations department in the early 1970s my job was to educate the public about the benefits of computers to society.
The massive computer systems designed, manufactured, and marketed by IBM at that time cost millions of dollars and occupied entire floors of a building. Raised floors, special cooling systems and enormous staffs of people were required to operate IBM’s System 360s and 370s. Only large corporations, universities, research centers or government institutions could afford and justify their cost.
In addition to cranking out press releases explaining the value of IBM’s data processing systems, my colleagues and I conducted seminars for the media that featured experts from IBM’s Research & Development centers and customer testimonials.
I was as fascinated as our guests when I heard IBM scientists predict how some day students would be able to use computers to help with homework assignments, write term papers, do research, and more. Reporters would pepper them with questions about potential home automation such as security systems, regulating heating and air conditioning units, the potential benefits of merging telecommunications and data processing, guidance systems, telemedicine, touch-screen applications, and much more.
All those “pie-in-the-sky” predictions and more came true faster than the futurists anticipated. Today computers are commonplace. We take them for granted. They’re built into our cars and travel with us in our pockets. As a means of contrast IBM introduced the first hard disk drive to break the 1GB (one billion characters of information) barrier in 1980. Called the IBM 3380 it could store 2.52GB, was about the size of a refrigerator and weighed 550 pounds, not something you can easily carry around with you even if you could afford it.
Technology has advanced so rapidly that US Senate hearings this week and last featured the heads of technology companies attempting to defend themselves about the impact of its intrusiveness on our daily lives.
Not only is the technology no longer a novelty but it’s becoming a nuisance, no longer associated with entertainment and fun, but work.
This was confirmed by part-time Amelia Island resident Professor Marsha D. Loda, in a research brief she shared with me earlier this week. Professor Loda teaches at Hull College of Business, Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia.
Professor Loda’s students fall into the Generation Z category of people born between 1997 and 2012, following on the heels of the Millennials. There are some 68 million of them living amongst us, and according to Professor Loda’s research they’re getting fed up with technology, possibly pushed over the top by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tiled “The Thrill is Gone: College Students and Their Computers” Mrs. Loda’s research indicates that Generation Z students that were raised on the Internet and social media are less fond of technology now than they were before the pandemic started.
Her findings are from written responses to a voluntary extra credit question on a midterm exam. She says, “students were advised that there was no right or wrong answer to this question: Since the pandemic started, it is common for people to work more often from home on their laptops or personal computers. Has this experience left you more or less fond of technology? Please explain if your attitudes have shifted or not and why/how.”
Some 41.3 percent of these “digital natives” who grew up with the Internet and social media recorded a harsh negative response, a percentage that surprised Professor Loda. She says: “41.3% is a strong, negative, and unexpected response, and consequences could be far-reaching to a technologically focused society.”
Professor Loda’s research paper went on to report that of those reporting to be less fond of technology, 47% no longer see their computers as a source of entertainment. In short, they equate computers with work now, not fun (“I no longer look at my personal computer at home as an enjoyable outlet” and “I don’t even want it [laptop] anymore”). Another 37% of negative responders reported frustration with programs and connections. (“using technology more, I have noticed more flaws” and “I can see how much work technology needs”).
Mrs. Loda asks: “Is this the tip of the iceberg, or an ice cube?”
She says that since Generation Z will soon be America’s largest age group there is much at stake. “So, if some 40% of Gen Z today are less fond of their computers, then what? Tech companies and programmers would be wise to focus on the end user experience. Tech’s sometimes ‘my way or the highway’ attitude may need to pivot to ‘digital empathy’ to maintain customers.”
The professor concludes saying: “Because COVID 19 brought such swift, significant, and lengthy change – swift, significant, and lengthy impacts may lie ahead.”
Technology Withdrawal Therapy: If you’re like Professor Loda’s students and ready to shake your addiction to Twitter, Facebook, laptops, and desktops without blowing your top you’re going to have to slowly wean yourself off with substitute activities.
I’ve created the following list of 35 pursuits that will help ease the trauma of going technologically cold turkey.
- Find interesting places that are a mile or less from your home and plan walks to them.
- Play a board game with family members or friends.
- Buy some art supplies and begin drawing or painting.
- Learn to play a musical instrument.
- Think of those who might be lonely and visit them.
- Call or visit a parent or grandparent just to say “hello”, you’ll make their day.
- Do a daily crossword puzzle.
- Ride a bike.
- Start a journal or diary.
- Visit a friend or invite one over.
- Read a book you’ve never read before.
- Invite a sibling, cousin, or neighbor to play catch, frisbee or to go to the park with you.
- If you’re retired or a teenager look for a part-time job – car washing, babysitting, dog walking, lawn work, house-setting, etc.
- Start a garden.
- Volunteer at a nursing home, Humane Society, etc.
- Make a bucket list or a reverse bucket list.
- Bake or buy cookies and give them to the fire station nearest your home. Ask them to show you their maps of your neighborhood or take your blood pressure.
- Visit the Humane Society to play with the animals.
- Get some neighbors or friends together for a game of flag football.
- Pick up a bat, ball and a glove and go to a nearby park with a pal, sibling or child and hit fungoes.
- Write a short story or a Limerick.
- Learn a new card game.
- Go to the library and wander around.
- Go for walk along Egans Creek or the beach and see how many different kinds of birds you can identify.
- Walk through Bosque Bello cemetery and read the headstones. See if you can find the oldest one.
- Learn how to juggle.
- Ask your grandparents about their childhood, jobs, etc. Ask them about their parent’s lives. Take notes.
- Buy and read a magazine or newspaper you’ve never read before.
- Go to a coffee shop, ice cream parlor or pub with friends to talk and challenge them not to use their cellphones unless to answer emergency texts. The first one to use a phone picks up the tab.
- Read opinions that are the opposite of yours. If you’re Republican conservative read “Mother Jones”. If you’re a Democrat socialist read “National Review”. See if you can find one item you agree upon.
- Walk a dog – your own or a neighbor’s.
- Go the local Amelia Island Museum of History or the Maritime Museum and pick your favorite exhibit. Explain to your family or friends why.
- Write an opinion piece or a letter to the editor of the News Leader.
- Handwrite a personal letter to a relative, friend, work colleague, former teacher, or neighbor to tell them you were thinking about them.
- Take this list and add to it or subtract from it.
Things I Wish I’d Said: “The vaccine should be tested on politicians first. If they survive, the vaccine is safe. If they don’t, then the country is safe.” – Monika Wisniewska, Polish author.
Seeing Red: For 87 years Washington DC’s professional NFL football team proudly carried the name “Redskins”. The team even had a song – “Hail to the Redskins” – and its own band to play it. No more.
Team owner Dan Snyder, who seven years ago vowed never to change the name no matter how much pressure was put on him by the loony left, genuflected to the cancel culture loons this year and caved, renaming his footballers The Washington Football Team. “Hail to the Team?” I don’t think so.
I was an avid Redskin fan but haven’t watched a single game this year of any of the NFL teams. I want to watch football, not a group of guys making political statements by refusing to honor the national anthem, the military, our flag, and scribbling BLM and the names of thugs on their helmets.
The Redskin name change is preposterous. It was changed because the liberal wackos and their far-left political allies said it was offensive to Native Americans, you know – Indians. They did it even though many Indian tribes said they weren’t offended at all and that the “Redskins” were their preferred football team. They understand what the word means.
First of all, have you ever seen a red person? Other than those who should be red from embarrassment over this name change, neither have I.
Coloring their skin red was done by Native American Indians because it was the color of war. One thing the many diverse North American Indian tribes had in common was their definition of colors with red symbolizing blood, strength, energy, power, and success. It was this reason after early settlers did battle with these fierce warriors they respectively called them “redskins”.
The term “redskins” was first recorded in the late 17th century and was applied to the Algonquian peoples generally, but specifically to the Delaware. Redskins referred not to the natural skin color of the Delaware , but to their use of vermilion face and body paint. And in what is now South Dakota, when the Lakota tribe’s Chief Black Elk prepared for battle at Wounded Knee, he said: “I painted my face all red”
At the rate the NFL is caving in to the cancel culture morons they’ll soon have teams playing only to ties because otherwise it would be harmful to the self-esteem of those players with the least amount of points at the end of game.
Now What CNN? Two of the biggest losers in this election are CNN and MSNBC. Without Donald Trump to kick around on a daily basis, how the hell will they fill the time?
Wait! What? Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who is the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, placed the blame on the violence that broke out in Washington, D.C. after the Million MAGA March concluded earlier this week on President Trump. At the same time Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) compared Trump rallies to KKK meetings.
Swarms of black-clad, Democrat-backed Antifa and Black Lives Matter thugs physically assaulted Trump supporters. These cowardly goons sucker-punched women, kicked marchers they had knocked to the ground in their heads, tossed fireworks at diners, and burned American flags.
Jeffries and Omar clearly follow the Joseph Goebbels theory of shifting the blame to their enemies for crimes their own followers commit. Are Democrat voters so dim and blinded by hatred that they’ll believe any of the Hitleresque drivel these hate mongers spew? Or are they just mindless, complying lemmings? If people this grotesque are part of the Biden Administration the next four years will be a nightmare.
Please Don’t Feed The Voters: Whenever I enter a national park I see signs and hear messages from park rangers saying: “Don’t feed the animals.” We’re told: “You’re not doing them any favors, only making them wholly dependent on handouts and unable to fend for themselves.” Can’t the same logic be applied to what the Democrats have done and are planning with their government handouts, particularly the inedible ones?
Another Thing I Wish I’d Said: “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should begin to live a life you don’t feel the need to escape from.” – Anonymous
Your list sounds to me like the activities of our Generation of Baby Boomers. The Millennials and Generation Z need the outdoors, hobbies, etc. so hopefully they will obtain a little ‘common sense’.
The Democrats in public office now also need to apply common sense to their rhetoric. After losing House seats to Republicans do they not realize “the Common American’ does not support Democrats due to their far Left ideas? The Democratic Party is in turmoil and hopefully in the 2022 elections Republicans will win the House. Of course, the 2014 elections gave Republicans both House and Senate but what did they accomplish?
I am hoping now with the incoming Congressional Representatives as “Trump Republicans” we will now have a “Conscious Awareness” of social justice and racial justice not just the “Woke Awareness” by social media activists.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and Linda.
Being in the banking business beginning in the late 60’s I became familiar with the massive mainframes and tape drives. My first “personal computer” was a Sinclair ZX81 that used a TV as a monitor. It was manufactured in Scotland by the Timex Corporation. Unfortunately, the Timex watch slogan of “It takes a beating and keeps on ticking” didn’t apply to the ZX81. There was no external data storage and the power supply was so finicky and would delete any programming you were in the middle of if it lost power, I finally gave up on it within a couple of months and into the trash it went.
Today, chips are in almost everything electrical. Our automobiles today have 50 – 100 microprocessors. The issues of privacy and security are real. Consumers have displayed a casual attitude and readily click the “agree” button when downloading “free” applications on their phone, laptop or desktop never fully understanding what authority they are giving to the application owner to collect, analyze and sell data.
As much as I want to write something negative about this week’s blog ( more so out of habit than anything else ), I find my fingers not up to the task. In fact, I actually enjoyed this week’s content for the most part. I agree wholeheartedly that technology has lost it’s luster. It’s high time the pendulum swings toward many of your items listed. This coming from a guy who started out writing PL/1 for IBM 360s on punch cards to writing today’s object oriented software targeting the cloud, servers, laptops, and mobile devices. My livelihood has depended on rapidly advancing technology. However, I’m about done. A more simple life filled with simple pleasures is beckoning. As far as the Redskins go, and I say this as a fan beginning with Sonny Jorgenson, I’ve gone from despondent over the name change to apathetic. I’d just settle for a winning season at this point.
Jurgensen. Another reason to hate technology….. spell check.
Been a long time since I have heard the word PL/1! Learned it in 67 or 68 from a bored IBM Hurley tech guy sent to Poughkeepsie. Great language, the only language at that time that could handle 5 and 6 dimension matrices. Tech was way more fun then.😊
Hang out with friends once again to just socialize. We remember this from before 2020.
It’s columns like this that give encouragement to the few, the proud, the common-sense Americans who are tired of the majority being blamed for the mistakes of the minority, the guilty set free while the innocent suffer, and those who use children and old people as pawns in political games.
Good for Dave Scott.
Dave, this column was so refreshing in general, and in spite of the required jabs at the left, I enjoyed and reminisced about the earlier days of computers. I remember one course at UMass (I can’t think of the name of the course, being 40 years ago, ugh), where we polled students on various topics, took demographic data then put cards with holes in them into the computer, and waited for a printout. It almost took more time to get the data ready, than if we just collated it ourselves. I also, liked your suggestion of what to do in lieu of being glued to a computer or some other device…kind of reminds me of what we all did when we were young back in the prehistoric days before such devices. Being a technosaur, I still do those things anyway, in an effort to avoid the damn tech tools that have supposedly made our lives better (the jury is still out in my mind).
When I hired on with Southern Bell in 1970, I worked in the central office in Ft Lauderdale which took up two floors and were HUGE . Took 40 full time employees to run it… When I retired in 2012, the central offices were about 15% the size and a lot were run remotely from a location out of state…
Dave, from what I have read Trump is planning on starting his own network so FOX may be in trouble too. Honestly I would love to see all the “news” networks disappear and go back to just the 3 big ones. Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to five minutes of politics, the weather that is never right, and the rest how many people were shot in Jax that day….
I enjoyed the read, Dave.
Dave: Professor Loda’s research is interesting. In addition, I would make the case we “baby boomers” had an exact OPPOSITE experience. If you are 75 (like me), or a few years younger, the computer was a tool for work, used at work. To have thought of it as “entertainment” would have your co-workers scratching their heads. It’s first iteration as a desk top item was as a tool. My secretary (administrative assistant in todays lingo) had one before I had one on my office desk. I NEVER associated that machine with entertainment, pleasure or fun until later.