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LJI:4 "I don't skate to where the puck is. I skate to where the puck is going to be."
beeker
beeker121
While waiting for the coffee to brew this morning, I saw on my news feed that Macy’s is closing 63 stores in early 2017.  “A sign of the times” I thought as I browsed through the list of stores.  “Online shopping is so huge now, it’s hard for brick and mortar to compete.”  Then I came to a line on the list that took my breath away.  Macy’s is closing the store in downtown Minneapolis; it opened in 1902.

I wanted to yell at someone about the loss of history, or why longevity doesn’t count for much of anything, or maybe just to get off my lawn.  But a national chain closing one branch of a store isn’t really a big deal.  It is just “a sign of the times”.  Macy’s in 1902 didn’t know about the Mall of America, or online shopping.  They’re doing what they need to do to stay alive now.

It made me realize that for most of the last century progress moved along a predictable curve.  Sure movies, the automobile, and television were crazy and dangerous when they debuted but it took time for any of them to gain traction in everyday life.  Computers and the internet, however, have changed everything in a short span of time.  Personally, by location or choice, I was usually a little behind.  But the changes just in my lifetime are huge.  When I was in grade school our phone still had a rotary dial, our TV had five channels, and my parents had just bought a new-fangled microwave.

I had a computer class for a quarter in the 9th grade.  We were taught it could do basic algebraic math and how to program it to make a picture in pointillism (turn this square in this column and row this color, and repeat until your image appeared).  That was it.

I got my first email address as a junior in college.  You could sign up at the student services office if you wanted one, and use one of the two computer labs on campus.  My boyfriend was at another college and taught me how to use it, to save on stamps.

I got a pager when I became a professional stage manager in 2000 and a brick of a laptop to do paperwork with.  I didn’t get a cell phone until about two years later, when finding a payphone to return a page went from annoying to near impossible.  And it was 2004 before we started emailing out daily reports, instead of printing and faxing them.

Now I can’t imagine how to function in the modern world without an internet connection and computer at home, a cell phone (preferably smart), and the ability to google something I don’t know, or send an email to coworkers or friends.  Now I live in CO and work at a company in PA by connecting to the servers over a VPN from my home internet connection and skyping with co-workers.  Only two decades ago that sentence would have been gibberish to me.

So how do we know where anything is going to be in a decade, or two?  Sure, maybe we’ll finally get our flying cars or replicator meals, or maybe something different but equally as cool is coming.  But I don’t know how to get ahead of a curve that’s moving this quickly and there’s no good way to predict. I don't know how to plan for a future I can't even imagine.


**This is my entry for this week in LJ Idol read everyone else's here.  The topic is a Wayne Gretsky quote.**
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My husband will relate to this! He constantly rails about everyone and their 'lookdowns' as he calls them. We're right there with you down to the rotary phones. As you said- the changes are frustratingly fast and impossible to predict. I don't know about you, but I'm getting too old to keep up anymore!

Heh I had nothing for this topic until I saw that article. My parents still have their rotary phone, but had to get one with buttons to be able to navigate company menus. I've been feeling more lost than usual lately, and while I don't want to unplug completely, I do want it all to get magically simpler somehow. Ah well.

It's crazy when you step back and look at what was available when we were children compared to what we have now. If present-day me went back to past me and told me about some of the things we have today I would have thought I was crazy--not just because of the advances in technology, but that they all happened within about twenty years. That's insanely fast.

That's just it. The internet is insane enough - but the idea that you could carry it around in your pocket? I feel a bit like no one has this figured out, but we all smile at each other and pretend we do.

I'm even older than you are, so I remember mimeographs instead of photocopies, along with rotary phones and Encyclopedias and Black and White TV.

Although that connectivity is a boon for the terminally curious who want to know stuff now (like me), its intrusion on everyday life is not worth it to me. If there's one thing I would love to de-invent, it would be the smartphone. Computers, yes, and cellphones yes, but the combination of the two? It's eroding so many parts of social interaction so much than we ever thought possible.

I thought you were living in the S.F. Bay area in CA, not in CO. Was there a change? Or was I confused the first time around? :D

Yup - we had our set of encyclopedia's at home - my niece was looking at them on a recent trip to my parents and couldn't figure out why you'd have books about it - wouldn't they take too long to print?

Ooh, I rather like that idea. Watching two people at dinner both playing on their phones makes me cringe, every time.

Nope you were right the first time around, we moved to CO in the summer. I'm still figuring this place out, but it's been good so far.

This is in sync with the times .... its crazy how fast things are developing and old being replaced by new ... in every field. I think you did a pretty decent job with the topic this week . Good luck :)

It happens all over. I just wonder when I'm going to end up one of the old things to be gotten rid of.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

Your last line is so very true. How can we predict what we can't even imagine.

When I was a kid I might have come up with cell phones - satellite phones were already plot points in spy movies, but the rest of this? Not a chance.

hugs to you lady.

I am usually a late adopter of technology. If it's not going to last, why bother? I loved this entry, and it sure sparked a lot of interesting comments. Congratulations on your move to Colorado.

Yes my reasons for late adopting are partially like yours, and partially "but I just figured this other thing out why do I have to change it already" - heh.

Thank you for the kind words about the entry and the move.

With every change in the world, something different happens and the people who were in charge suddenly find themselves out of power. And that's why those at the top attempt to maintain the Status Quo: it means they get to continue to remain in control.

I guess changes depend on how you see what you see, what you regard as important to life.

Was that Minneapolis Macy's always a Macy's or was it a different local department store. Having worked in the system, I know that Federated, the parent company of Macy's bought up lots of local department stores in the 1980s and 90s, before online shopping was a palpable threat to brick and mortar stores. In Philadelphia, John Wanamaker, in Pittsburgh, Kaufman's as just two examples of pre-existing stores that were converted to Macy's when they went bankrupt.

I don't think we're ever going to get flying cars, tho. That would put airlines out of business and they are too status quo to let that happen...

I'm usually for messing with the status quo, but as I get older it takes me longer to adjust to change than it used to, even about something as silly as plans for a weekend.

I believe that Macy's is closing that store in part to sell the building - since the real estate is worth more than the revenue at this point, so it will hopefully be revived as something else. But it took me a few days to appreciate that point instead of just being frustrated at change. That pause to breathe and think - maybe that's what we all need.

Oh, wow, what a great response to the prompt! Yes and yes and a nervous yes! Kind of crazy the changes we've seen in our lifetime, but even more crazy when you think of what those born in the 1910's saw! It's progress, baby!

Thank you, I had nothing for this prompt until I saw that article and started making connections.

Occasionally it feels like my eleven year old nephew is speaking another language, and then I wonder how my parents deal with it. We're at least in the middle of the changes, I suppose.

I can so relate to this. By the time I learn / master one skill, it's often out-moded. Why try? It's hard to stay ahead.

That's just it, part of the reason I adopt new tech late is because I just figured out this other thing and now I'd like to get some use out of it - heh. I regularly arrive to the party just as everyone else is leaving.

Your experiences are so similar to my own, we must be nearly the same age. My first computer was a Texas Instruments computer we hooked up to an old TV as a monitor. I used to code programs in BASIC and then save them by recording them on an audio tape recorder! I think I still have one of those tapes somewhere. Listening to the beeps and honks was always amusing.

I still have 3.5" floppy discs with all of my papers from college on them. I don't know if we own anything that could read them anymore, but I still have the discs!

I always liked the beeps and boops of the phone line connection, that noise was somehow soothing.

There is hope! I found a floppy disk drive that can plug into a computer using a USB port. I intend to extract whatever information I can from all those old discs I myself possess, save them onto another medium, and finally get rid of them.

Oooh that's a nifty widget. I know there's also a place around here somewhere that will pull the files and put them on a mini-usb, I'll have to do some comparison shopping and see which'll be cheaper. I don't really need any of those docs anymore, but it'd be nice to still have them accessible.

I got my first cell phone when I was 17. It was huge and had a pull-out antenna. I couldn't text on it, and I certainly couldn't call long distance. My parents spent an arm and a leg on it because they were in the middle of a divorce and refused to say two words to each other, and I had to chauffeur my younger siblings between the two houses.

Now the entire internet is in a phone smaller than that phone I had when I was 17.

I have college papers on floppy disks in my room, and my sister, who's 8 years younger, has never held a floppy disk in her life.

Technology changes at a crazy speed.

Wow, you had one of those cell phones. I think you could have hurt someone with those.

Generational change and communication issues is always a thing, but I feel like younger folks have almost a different language at this point.

I still have floppy discs around too, no good way to see what's on them, but they exist.

Don't even bother trying I work in Computer technology and I have a hard time keeping up with everything. I have to train on new technology constantly.

I have a friend who did computers and then took a few years off to have kids. She said it was like starting from scratch, everything had shifted so completely.

I admire anyone who does work in computer tech, I know how much work to keep up with the work you have to do.

That last line tho

it's so true that technology is progressing at a rate that is quite daunting to think about and how quickly it's changed the world

great use of the prompt!

Somehow this new year has had me feeling a little lost and it fed into this in a big way. Planning seems both necessary and ridiculous.

Thank you so much.

I can relate. I remember thinking I might be the last generation that actually wrote paper love letters to summer-camp boyfriends.

Right? I still have some letters that HS boys sent me and it's a bummer that this generation will miss out on that. Or at least I think so, but they may not put any value on it.

I have that same experience, though my computer exposure started a bit earlier. I remember the rotary phone, arguing with my brother about who had to get up and turn the channel on the TV, the lack of Google when I was in college... it is so weird to think what could happen in the next decades that way. Good entry!

There was a point on New Years Day when the kids of the folks we were hanging out with were whining to watch "My Little Pony" which was set up for them on a tablet. I was thinking - "I'd never have gotten away with that while football was on, you watched football" and then realized that there was only one TV and if something wasn't showing on one of the five channels it wasn't available at all. Everything shifts.

Thank you!

Great use of the prompt. Loved it.

It is utterly mind-boggeling to realize how far we've come, so fast. Everything has changed!

Everything really has changed. It's even more boggling to realize that for younger folks it's always been like this.

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