An encounter at a Best Buy provides a revealing glimpse of the breakneck speed of change these days:
The clerk asked if he could help, and I said I was looking for a cheap virus-magnet laptop loaded with crapware. He asked me to repeat myself. He said the offerings on the showroom floor were scant, but I might try the website. He also said something interesting:
I don’t use a computer myself.
And this from a young fellow. Why so? Because he used his phone for everything except games, and for that he had an Xbox. The idea of a computer was . . . (shrug) whatever. I wandered around the store, looking at things I neither wanted or needed. This was the Best Buy flagship, the best store in the chain: it’s close to the corporate mothership, and they experiment here, put on their best face. I walked out thinking:
They really are doomed.
I don’t know why I thought that; I’ve always enjoyed the store. It always felt like a going concern. But they sell cameras. Laptops. Where once they had rows of media, now there’s little, because physical media is going away. Where once they had games they don’t have games, because - well, see above.
So, in just a handful of years we've gone from having kids who never knew a world without computers to a new generation that can't imagine why anyone would need a computer. And it was, what, about 5,300 years between the development of written language and the introduction of the first commercially successful typewriter?
But I said "startling," which may have been overstating it. When I read it, I nodded in recognition. It's amazing how much I've been using my smartphone in the last year, and how much less I now use my tablet and laptop. And I seem to still be adding an app or two every week. The latest one was a combination timer/stopwatch. The timer is incredibly useful in cooking. Haven't used the stopwatch yet, but, hey, it's good to know it's there.
We adapt to little advances along the way and often miss how much our lives have been changed in the process. Halfway through the governor's state-of-the-state speech last night (watching such things is one of the boring requirements of an editorial writer's job), it occurred to me it had been a long time since I'd paid careful attention to such things and taken extensive notes. In the pre-Internet days, those notes (as long as I could still decipher them) were crucial to writing an editorial the next day. These days, I just barely give the speech enough attention to get the flavor of the remarks, knowing I can get the full transcript online the next day. And as often as not, there will be a video, too.
Here's the text. It even includes highlighted parts to indicate what the governor intended to say but left out because his time was running short.