Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Carriage Return < CR >

Chances are that if you know what a carriage return is, you are of certain age and a certain technological ability. I am quite sure that my teen-aged children do not. It occurred to me upon seeing an old typewriter, an old manual typewriter even, how technology has changed. < cr >

My children could hardly believe that that first phone we had on our farm had a "party line," which is not nearly as fun as it sounds. It meant that when you picked up the phone that it was possible and probable that another person could be talking on (and using so that you’d have to wait) that same "line." Conversely, you could be chatting and have a neighbor pick up their phone only to discover that you were on it. I guess it was a sort of precursor of wire-tapping and, depending upon the skills of the listener, you could tap into your neighbor’s business undetected with ease. < cr >

I listened with curiosity this weekend about some MIT researchers who claimed that the use of Facebook and texting and such were diminishing human interactions and were detrimental to our social well-being. HA! I laughed. He obviously does not have a teenage daughter, who is a virtual social network all by herself with her 300 Facebook friends (not sure about this number, but I bet I’m not far off...maybe a big low...) and trusty cell phone by her side. Yes, she sleeps with it and I am quite sure all of her friends do, too. She texts as fast as I can talk and can do so with hardly a glance at the keyboard. < cr >

Do I consider this new interaction “detrimental?” Hardly. This researcher may think this new technology de-humanizing, but he just fails to see outside the box. These kids can communicate faster than a speeding bullet, solve social problems easier than leaping over tall buildings and still develop into responsible, lovely, interactive people. < cr >

So, if you really want to understand technology and social networking and how well it really works, hang out with a bunch of teens for a while. And they did it all without even knowing the < cr >.

2/23/2011 Postscript: I just glanced at my Post and noticed that the "< cr >" was not there on my original post. I altered it slightly to < space CR space >, then it showed up. Well, I'll be... That ancient Carriage Return is still there after all. The computer just "recognized" this shorthand for the old Carriage Return and did just that. Next paragraph, please... ;-)

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