Ahead and Behind at the Same Time

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Since my first PDA in 2000, I can say that mobile and Internet technology has been a source of wonderment with gooey layers of learning for texture. For every new thing learned, whether it was application, service, or process, there was also something lost: time, patience, funds. And yet, this attention has left many of us wondering why in being so ahead of the times, we are also so behind in understanding the reasons and goals for all of this.

Ahead of the Curve
You might have a story line that is similar to mine: see a PDA or smartphone, wonder and learn about it, obtain one, and then this exponential growth in this *new* area called mobile technology.

Or you might be one of those who saw email and bulletin boards as something more, and before Facebook had a face that counted in the millions you were already in there, building and setting the ground rules for what is now well out of your control.

There’s the grapple with those of us at the utter edge of technology that is just perpetual and never-ceasing: we are ahead of the curve. We learn and apply, do and administrate, faster than analysts can analyze. And at the same time we are laughed at and called fools because we see technology now as it will eventually be seen by others — years later.

Behind the Eightball
We are behind the curve. So fast to grab the donut we neglect to cut it up into manageable pieces for others. So unfinished hardware and software, service outages, and outrageously high costs make us look even worse. To those looking at us from the outside we should have just waited “until all the kinks were worked out.” But that’s just it; we are the ones working out those kinks.

In 2002 or 2003, my mother decided to purchase a PDA. She had seen what it done for my college career (increased organization led to a much higher GPA and clearer focus on my life’s goals) and thought that it could apply to her life as well. But there needed to be a relevant entry point; she was no one’s beta tester.

Her first PDA was a Palm Zire 71, purchased weeks after I got my own. She only wanted to know how to add contacts and calendar items, read her Bible electronically, and take pictures. There was no interest in attaching a keyboard to write documents on a small screen, not even to slide-load music from a PC to listen to later. Nope, all that mattered was that the technology enriched her life with the least amount of fuss.

It was a lesson that sticks to me to me to this day. For as ahead as I am with my Nokia N95 that does everything, it still pales in comparison to my mom’s LG phone, which simply works and enriches her connections with those around her. Behind the curve in terms of the latest technology, she was ahead of me — the digital native — with understanding that it just needed to enrich life simply.

 

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