Remember a while ago when someone asked you who the 12th President of the United States was, you would have to walk to the library and look it up?
Put on your shoes, and a jacket if necessary, and stroll for twenty minutes or so. Then you would search for your source material via micro film (or index cards if you go way back), search up and down the stack for the required volume, and thumb through the pages for your answer.
You would jot President Taylor's name in your Hilroy notebook with your HB pencil, and head home.
Photo: State Library by stibbons via Flickr
Nowadays? Here's the answer on Wikipedia.
My Google search was "presidents of the united states wiki"; Google churned out "about 135,000,000 results (0.25 seconds)".
After entering a search string into Google's box, if I don't get a screen full of answers within 0.25 seconds, I want to throw my laptop out the window. I have very high expectations of my online experience. When I'm online - blogging especially - it is squeezed into the finite about of time I have to myself. When the broadband narrows, or the high-speed slows, it feels like and infringement on my freedom.
I never had that feeling at the library. It was always quiet there, and I was always alone.
I lose patience with my kids sometimes, too (I know, I'm unique that way). The difference is in the expectations I have of my kids versus those I have of my Intel processor.
I expect my PC to react instantly. When it doesn't, I consider it wasted time.
I expect to have to give my children fourteen commands to brush their teeth. When they don't listen I consider that just another Wednesday.
Every second must be filled during my online alone time. If I can't perform a certain task on the window open in front of me because I'm waiting for a page to load, or an update to install, I'll open a new tab and check my email, or Facebook, or Twitter. I'll never just look out the window and wait.
If my kids refuse to eat their supper, I'll sit there stubbornly like those weird space hippies in that old Star Trek episode and defiantly look out the window.
In some ways, it would be nice if my kids were more like my PC:
- I'd like them to go to sleep when they've been inactive for ten minutes.
- When they have a virus, I'd like to bring them to a tech geek until they're better....but, like, down load all their best part onto a thumb drive just in case they don't come back.
- I'd like them to have a finite battery life; at the end of the day, they force themselves to shut down.
- I'd like to be able to right-click on them, read their code, and programme them to be neater and more efficient.
- When they zone out in front of the TV (screen saver mode), I'd like to jiggle their mouse and have them instantly perk up and pay attention to me.
- I'd also like to have them search for my running watch they "borrowed" from me, and have them instantly offer up 135,000,000 possible locations for it.
I don't like the way I am impatient with them sometimes, though. My PC can handle my frustration, the kids aren't programmed that way. They meander, they tune out, they react slowly, they get distracted, they process things in their own way and in their own time.
While my PC frustrates me with its hiccups, delays, updates and endless processes; my children's processes are exactly what fascinate me about them.
That, and the little things, like how fascinated they are by hiccups.