My father’s father, Claude, would probably find our modern technological wonders magic. Or unbelievable.
Imagine getting in a time machine and over coffee explaining to him that we can talk with anyone anywhere in the world. That within a matter of hours we can be transported in luxury anywhere in the world. That the entire knowledge base of humanity is available at the touch of a button. And let’s not forget our ability to watch any movie or listen to any music by just asking a robot.
He would likely just smile and think me a nutjob.
But, here’s the thing. I could probably manage to help him understand many of the basics including a turntable-based music system. It’s not that far-fetched to show the principles behind the technology. A string and two cans would be a great help.
Now imagine explaining how digital audio works. Try to make sense of an optical disc and a pulsating laser to a person who just saw their first automobile.
Between the electro-mechanical era where inventors like Edison and Tesla could convert physical objects like horns, wires, wax, and needles into miracles, and the age of digital electronics spans a chasm so deep and wide as to be either magic or witchcraft.
In fact, do you think you could explain to someone with zero knowledge of electronics or science how music is stored and retrieved from an optical disc or a solid-state memory?
I would wager to say that when we crossed the deep divide between the electro-mechanical age and were thrust headfirst into manipulating electrons that we lost our grip on the ability to manipulate our own world. It wasn’t that many years ago I could set the timing on my car. Now my car has no timing to set.
It feels a bit humbling to have crossed the greatest chasm of humankind.
I am happy to be here. What a ride!