Back to the books

Share Button

My daughter rushes around to get ready for her second year of college. Getting around the campus and planning to buy furniture is also on the schedule for the day. I point out that she didn’t bring her books with her to class and she shrugs, showing me her USB memory stick.

“That’s all?” I ask. A quick nod and I turn my attention back to the GPS that guides me to the wrong address. For some reason it points me to the nearby hospital instead of the college and I grunt out my displeasure. Back in the day, I just had to run across the street to get to class, but today it’s a complicated affair. My daughter laughs at my old-fashioned ways and saves me with her cellphone, which tells me where I need to go. Geez, even my new GPS is already outdated.

When I went to school in the south, packsacks hadn’t been invented. We had to carry stacks of books everywhere and our arms looked as if professional wrestlers had trained us for years. Yes, paper was a cheap commodity back then and no one worried about our forests. In fact, recycling was actually not even a word back then. The computer I trained on was the size of a poutine snackstand and would take days to carry out our computations. I thought my brain was faster than that and I stuck to the slide rule and abacus. The personal calculator was not around for anyone’s use except for NASA, who often had to correct the metal machines’ output with ordinary human brain matter.

Today’s academic brainiacs have just about everything at their fingertips. The learning process is quicker and easier, but does the smartphone have what it takes to replace the human mind? Is the laptop an endangered species already? Are we now smarter than the teachers of old? Can the level of education get so high that we will need to test our own technical prowess instead of our brains?

Like, hey, does your phone have the latest processor and can it ace the last exam in under five minutes or is it electronically retarded and can only finish the exam in five-and-a-half minutes? Can it make money for you online in between classes, enough to pay for your lunch? Can it interpret your slang fast enough to respond to your vocal desires? Or can it scan your eyes and determine whether or not the online food order is good enough for your taste buds?

Only time will tell. Time, by the way, is now measured in nanoseconds, making the thousandth of a microsecond the standard measurement in smartness. That means that if it takes more than a day to figure something out, then it must be impossible to determine whether the truth is out there.

The future does look bright for those who want to keep up with the rest of the technological world, but for old-school guys like me, time has no meaning. Therefore, we are free from the bonds of timely commitments, deadlines and schedules.

The right answers are not as important as the right choices. The wrong answers are still possible and mistakes are still made through old-fashioned trial and error. Today, my packsack holds my trusty laptop and the endless spaghetti mess of charging and connection cords. Small paper notes with passwords clutter the tiny pockets on the sides. A heavy thermos is still standard issue and the day still has 24 hours, making the week feel like a few days instead of a trillion milliseconds.

Yes, life may drag on, but who is in a rush for life to go by quickly? Not me.

Share Button

Comments are closed.