The first desktop computer my family owned was an IBM that ran Windows 3.1. The year was 1995.
Even though much of my educational and adult life has taken place in the modern age of information and technology, I still remember the days when extra credit was given for homework assignments completed on a word processor, versus being handwritten. Also, the school year when Microsoft Encarta CD-ROMs first replaced the Encyclopedia Brittanica and Webster's Dictionary on the bookshelf in our small cottage in the Pennsylvania woods. Back then the use of personal computers was more of conscious, potentially time-saving choice, yet still somehow rooted in novelty. "Look Mom, I'm on Netscape!" Not so, today.
Even for someone who is old enough yet still young enough to have lived on both sides of this technological chasm, I'm equally nostalgic and future-forward. Soon though, we'll be a society nearly entirely and informed and shaped by our present-day reality of hyperconnectivity. The full submission of the world inhabited by Digital Immigrants to Digital Natives.
It's the wrestling of those worlds that has been so neatly captured by Michael Harris' book, The End of Absence.
Essentially, it takes more to escape today. To remove ourselves from the deluge of information and unsubscribe from status updates. We've outsourced much of our own mental computing to our myriad devices that Memorization is now a novelty. What we've collectively gained from efficiency and access, we've lost to the compulsion to know.
To be clear, the book is neither a Luddite's call to arms, nor a bleak or dystopian forecast. Rather it's a thoughtful reflection on where we've been and how we choose to let technology contribute to (and often subtract from) our humanity. It's therefore important that we become more critical of ourselves and more clearly define what we hope to gain from our continued engagement with the technologies and data we create. In this new world of creators and users, the book, if anything, should serve as a reminder to both audiences, is what we're doing being done for technology's sake, or for our own?
For more on the book, I recommend http://boingboing.net/2014/09/05/iia008.html