It’s 2004 — nearing 2005 — and I am more and more disappointed in our technological advancements. Shouldn’t we all be flying to work in little Jetsons cars by now? Where’s the transporter we were promised?
I’m sitting here acting as a clearinghouse of information for my friend Jon, who is running in today’s Marine Corps Marathon. I’ve got all sorts of windows open with maps and times, as well as a handmade list Jon made, listing his estimated times and locations. So far, he’s been right on target, while the magical tracking system from the marathon is way off. For a long time, it indicated that he was at mile -55; now it seems to have the mile location correct, but the dot on the map is 4 or 5 miles behind. So much for technology.
And then there are mobile phones. Back when I graduated from high school, cell phones came in big heavy packs, with a corded handset. Remember how they, strangely, had a special kind of doohickey that the handset latched to?
Now, cell phones come in tiny little packages, and have such unintuitive features as cameras (who in the world decided that the telephone needed to be combined with the camera?). Yet, the phones work so much less often than they used to.
Because of the distance between us, B and I conduct large parts of our relationship via cell phone. He’s on Cingular, I’m on AT&T — the same network these days. But everytime we talk, one of us loses signal or drops the call. The sound quality is cruddy. And we don’t have the cheapest phones out there, either.
I think that the major problem with technology these days is the market-driven way it’s developed. Cell phone companies aren’t interested in better quality, they want quantity. More calls shoved into the limited bandwidth. ‘Cos you can’t make money with quality. Just turn on the television and you’ll realize that.
The last really big technological undertaking by nations was, I think, the Concorde. Talk about futuristic — a supersonic passenger jet? Cool! Of course, it was incredibly expensive, so much so that it was never profitable and finally, the jet was taken out of service — the tragic crash was just one more excuse. (Lots of 707s have crashed, yet they’re still flying.)
How long until the International Space Station is abandoned, a grand idea that became so pared down and pointless that it’s just a useless tube hanging in space? Where’s the giant rotating wheel with a Hilton on it?
And one last thing: where’s my huge 3D television that I can hang on the wall? Yeah, yeah — I could buy a plasma set, 20 years after they were predicted to arrive, but it’s still plain old 2D. Turner Classic Movies is airing “Creature from the Black Lagoon” right now, and their listing says “Originally in 3-D.” What was the point of that little remark? How does that impact our viewing of the film? I guess they hope the audience will watch and think, “wow… this would be so much better on a 3D television.”