Footprint

I was at my desk composing an email to a customer who had asked a question I did not want to answer about a service issue which should not have happened.  I had thought out what the problem was, how I should describe the issues, what information I would provide to support my position and the type of attachments I would include in my response.  As I was Googling for support information I thought about how professionally this batch of manufactured material was being put together in what some would describe as an attempt to conceal the real issues (there’s a word for this but I can’t think of it).  Years ago I would have had to put together much more verbiage in an effort to conceal the real issues and cover my rear end (there’s a word for this but I can’t think of it).  Isn’t technology great?

Technology is great but sometimes I think that it would be nice if developments took a break so I could catch up. Am I 3G or 4G? Maybe I should write something about not being able to keep up with the changes, you know, “take my computer, please.”  But that’s been done over and over.  It would sound too much like a minor league comedian who has a standard routine about airline food.

“Hey, I just flew in on such and such airline. You ever fly them? Their food was terrible”.  Except now there is no airline food other than a bag of peanuts and the only thing that’s funny about that is the bag itself which says something about, “these peanuts may have been processed in a plant which processes peanuts.”

We’ve learned to accept the new technology and embrace it whether it’s banking on-line or ordering stuff from Amazon or sending emails or planning vacations or reading up on subjects we never knew existed and that’s terrific.

I read an article, on-line, about burning fossil fuels and the possible damage the carbon does to the environment.  The article said we need to reduce the amount of carbon that is released into the atmosphere; we need to reduce our carbon footprint.  It occurred to me when I read the word footprint that as individuals we are really not leaving much of any kind of footprint at all.

My wife sometimes gets brilliant ideas.  A recent idea had to do with cleaning the clutter out of the basement.  I had seen enough of these brilliant ideas to know that if I went downstairs and asked what she was doing that she would have another one which would most likely include me.  So I stayed upstairs and waited for her to come up and whisper the words, “you can do the rest”.  In this case it meant lugging giant plastic bags out of the basement.  Rather than haul them to the garage and then again to the curb on trash day I loaded them into the car and headed for the city refuse center.

As I was unloading the 500 lbs bags I noticed what I would call a small mountain of desk top computers and key boards and monitors in the corner of the refuse building.  Maybe as part of the on-going recycling frenzy aimed at keeping these items out of the landfills there is a search going on for a society which has not been introduced to the digital age or one which is still based on 386 technology.

Those computers may or may not work, I thought, but I’ll bet the hard drives are filled with recipes, addresses, old emails and probably more than a few have something like Girls of the Big Ten Gone Wild.  In addition they have other information and items that were once cherished but now are just forgotten bits and bytes.

You loved those albums but they got scratched so you replaced them with CDs and, “isn’t the sound crisp and clean and no scratches.”  You loved those CDs but if there was just a way to carry that music with you.  So you downloaded the songs to your computer and then onto your iPod because you really do need to have 10000 songs available at all times.  Now that you’ve downloaded all those tunes you might as well get rid of the CDs, “let’s downsize.”

“Hey, Honey.  What happened to that old photo album, the one with pictures of my grandparents and great grandparents?”

“It was falling apart so I scanned all the pictures and now they’re filed under Photos, family.”

I read another article, on-line, about creating a family time capsule. It said not to bother including cassettes or tapes or CDs or DVDs because by the time that someone opens the box there won’t be any machines around which will be able to read those items.  If I told you that I have the winning numbers for tonight’s lottery drawing which will take place in an hour but that they are on an 8 track cartridge what would you do?

We know what the people of America were like at the time of the Revolutionary War, in the 1800s as they pushed west and during the Great Depression because we have pictures and journals or, in the case of the Depression, we can talk to elderly family members who lived through it.   Fifty or one hundred years from now what will be left of this age of downsizing?  Will our music and pictures and thoughts have been digitized and then lost when the delete key is hit or when the hard drive fries?  Will sweet old Aunt Ruth be over there in the corner of the refuse building waiting to be buried with all the other aunts, uncles, cousins and Hootie and the Blowfishes?

I can imagine a time in the future when landfills are excavated and archeologists come across all those discarded computers (this assumes that they never found that 386 based society).  As they sift through the evidence they will wonder why we buried the pictures of our ancestors and our times.   They will question why we buried our music (although I’m pretty sure they will understand why rap music was buried).  As they read through our various messages and posts will they decipher our shorthand and wonder if we were a rather simpleminded people because we seemed to laugh all the time—lol, lmao?  I can’t imagine that what they find will be of much interest although there will no doubt be an on-going study of this group called the Big Ten.

Now is probably a good time for me to say that I am going out to buy a new fountain pen, a journal, some stationery, a file cabinet and a Kodak Instamatic camera but I’m too far down the digital road to go back.  What I will do is take this opportunity to say to the archeologists that I told them so, I warned them.  I warned them but I guess the message was probably deleted, fried or buried.

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