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Connected Old man Earnheardt blathers on about tech


Published: Wed, May 3, 2017 @ 12:05 a.m.

Editor’s note: This is part two of two.

Last week I noted that it seems strange for a tech-lover to rant about new technologies.

The truth is, I love new tech, but I miss the reliability afforded by old tech.

Case in point: I played music at my college radio station with “two turntables and a microphone.” Yes, that’s a lyric from Beck’s “Where It’s At.” In 1996, I played that song a lot on my radio show using something called a CD player. When the CD player broke, I pulled out an old vinyl record because, well, Napster wasn’t invented yet.

I was equal parts excited and confused when new tools like Napster emerged. But I still wanted to learn, create, and grow with new tech.

This is because of my proud membership in the often overlooked and perpetually underrated Generation X. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are of my generation, as are many tech entrepreneurs.

During my lifetime:

I’ve gone from making mix tapes on a dual deck boom box, to burning mix CDs, to embracing an ever-expanding iTunes playlists.

I started my Facebook account when you had to have a .edu email address to do so.

I bought my first pen drive that cost nearly $100 and held 124 mbs.

My first social media consisted of typing lines of green text on a black screen in a shared-use computer lab.

There were no photos, no graphics, just a bunch of nerds trying to slay imaginary dragons together on a text-based MMOG (that’s “massively multiplayer online game” to you kids) and geeking out that we got to do it together.

I’ve lived through, learned, discarded and replaced more technology in my 46 years than most Millennials.

If the digital revolution were the Wild West, I went there on a covered wagon, built a log cabin and fought bears.

I understand how things work because I was able to tear it apart and put it back together. All of this gives me an appreciation for new technology and part of that appreciation is an understanding that not all of it is built to last.

Many apps will go the way of MySpace and Vine (you kids still using Google+, right?). If I like a product, then I’m done auditioning new ones because, no matter how “user friendly” the interface is, sometimes this old man just wants something familiar and reliable.

I realize all this complaining may give the impression that I’ve given up new technology for the life of a luddite. Nothing could be further from the truth. I eagerly await the next generation of VR devices, driverless cars, vacationing on Mars and teleportation.

My point is not to bash technology, but rather acknowledge the intellectual and societal effort it takes to keep up with the new tech generation.

Professor Adam Earnheardt is chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University. Read his gripes at adamearn.com and follow the old man on Twitter at @adamearn.


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