USB typewriterI work in an organization staffed by about 15 people (plus several volunteers) in a 3-story building.  My office is on the 3rd floor, and I share it with 3 other people.  Were it not for these 3 co-workers, my day would be extremely lonely, since no one EVER visits the 3rd floor.  I even brought in flavored coffee from my favorite coffee shop in the U.S. to try to bribe people to come visit.  The attempt was a complete fail.  On the upside, the 4 of us got more coffee.  But today I am flying solo, and it has been a loooooong day.  To break the monotony, I wandered down to the first floor to make a lovely cup of afternoon milk tea.  One of the volunteers was sitting at the main table with a big stack of posters, so I asked her what she was working on.  She told me that she was putting these new stickers on the posters that informed people you could take a picture of the poster with your smart phone and then somehow donate directly through your phone. I just looked at her for a second in amazement.  I mean, she was obviously excited, so I knew she wasn’t making it up.  But it just sounded like crazy talk to me.  I know, I’ve seen those little boxes with the squiggly lines (which I just now Googled and discovered they are called QR codes).  I know you can scan those with an app or something (there’s an app for everything) and you can get special offers or extra information or something.  But this was just a poster.  I have no idea how it works.  It just amazes me.

Don’t get me wrong; I have embraced technology.  I  was an early iPhone 4 user (at least here in Osaka), and the only way you’ll get my iPhone 5 is if you pry it out of my cold, dead hands.  I’m actually very good at using it, too.  I was thrilled to be able to scan a boarding pass recently by using my phone.  When I was in the Philippines, one of my tasks was to set up the satellite phones.  I even taught my parents how to use Skype, which is nothing to sneeze at.  So I’m not technologically challenged.  It’s just that I remember the days before all this.  When I was in university, I typed my papers on a word processor.  It had a little pop-up screen that displayed 4 lines at a time (I was jealous of my sister when she got a newer one a few years later that showed seven lines).  My lab reports were handwritten in duplicate using carbon paper.  My neighbor once told me how she and her boyfriend, a student at a different university, used to communicate using a rudimentary form of what is now known as instant messaging and I just didn’t get it.  The first time I heard about this new invention they were working on called the World Wide Web, I couldn’t figure out how it would work.  How would you get information about anywhere in the world? Was there someone sitting at a computer that would answer your questions? I pictured this poor person sitting at a single desk in a poorly lit room patiently waiting for a question to answer, maybe with a glass of water and a sandwich next to the monitor.

What will they think up next, eh?

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