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He Said, She Said

He Said

What happened to America?

I’m not going to pull a Tom Brokaw and write that the World War II generation was the best that ever lived, but it might have been the last that knew how to work hard.

It’s not only hard work, like building artillery shells or cars in a factory by hand, that the technological age doesn’t know how to do. It’s any work at all — like writing notes by hand.

Yes, there is now a machine for that, too. The Livescribe Pulse digital pen allows its holder to take notes and digitally record voices to be transferred to a computer, where the audio files can be manipulated and sent to others. Sounds pretty convenient, right?

Sounds more like the end of the free world to me.

Convenience is the death of the critical thinker. What would most people do if they had to take a cross-country trip without programs like Google Maps?
Sure, they’d eventually resort to, would you believe it, an actual printed map, but I doubt they wouldn’t throw a fit about it.

What would someone today do if he or she lived in a time before even printed maps — when one had to navigate the land based on remembered landmarks and local species of plants?

I haven’t lost all faith in humanity yet, but I’m pretty certain that even I’m too spoiled by the comforts of modern life to survive with only nature and myself.

It’s too late to turn back now, though. Too many generations have been born into a world that feeds them, clothes them and pushes them along into a job with a suit and a smile — and those who choose to go against the grain are condemned as failures and disgraces to a society that once owned them.

I understand that this is a lot of fuss to make over a pen, but that’s only the straw. The post-WWII generation decided to kick up their heels and have a cigar as they ensured that every facet of their lifestyle was one of glamour and excess. Thanks to technology, most Americans don’t have to break their backs every day to make a living.

Right now, somewhere, Rosie the Riveter is crying.

She Said

Some may call this generation lazy, but I prefer innovative. Technology has been rocketing forward at an amazing pace, with many inventions geared toward making life easier.

One recent invention is the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen, developed to revolutionize note-taking — something very appealing to reporters, stenographers and college students everywhere. The pen, by use of a tiny infrared camera and specially designed dot grid paper, is able to store handwritten notes and open them on any Mac or PC as a word document. And it doesn’t stop there: The pen also contains a tiny recorder able to record audio to attach to memos. Imagine being able to record a professor’s lecture not only on paper but audibly.

Google has also taken the liberty of ushering in new technology that helps to simplify and organize people’s lives. For example, Google Docs allows users to upload documents online, where they can be read and edited live by anyone they’re shared with. Google Calendar is another useful planner that allows for color-coding and time organization and can also be shared with others online.
Both tools are easy to use, and also require human input — so there’s no fear of a Terminator-like robot uprising.

Another new product that doesn’t necessarily make things easier but fulfills childhood dreams of becoming Luke Skywalker is the Force Trainer. It uses a headband that reads brainwaves — a simplified version of the EEG technology used in medical tests. Just by a user thinking about it, this headband has the ability to move a ball up and down inside a tube.

Though this toy may not sound very useful, it’s this same brainwave technology that’s being put to use now as a video game controller and will one day be useful for people who are paralyzed and don’t have the ability to even flip a light switch.

It’s simple ideas like these that are made possible by modern technology leave future possibilities infinite. Products available today are a far shot from what anyone may have imagined years ago. They aren’t the cause of American laziness — it’s the fault of individuals.

Each product still requires human hands (or brain waves), and just because cars aren’t being made by hand doesn’t mean it was the new machinery that fired the workers.