Computer scientist Alan Kay (the guy who invented the stackable-windows computer interface we all use today) once defined technology as “anything invented after you were born” to make the point that people usually don’t consider “old” things like automobiles or chairs to be technology. For my parents, 8-track tapes were technology, but they aren’t for me. But MP3s are technology to me, while my kids won’t think of them that way.
Way back in 1999 Douglas Adams extended Kay’s definition and outlined three classifications that people use (often unknowingly) when they think about “technology.” (his words are in quotes, I’ve added the bold titles to clarify it)
- Before Me = Not Technology: “everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal”
- Me + 30 = Awesome Technology: “anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;”
- Me + 30 + 1 = Evil Technology: “anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.”
So what do you think? Have you seen this play our in your church or job? Do you ever personally think this way? I’m 31 and now that I have 2 small kids, I sometimes find myself more wary of newer technology compared to things I grew up with. How about you?