The Future = Now x Acceleration

Local Isolation / Global Reach

with 2 comments

Pomona General StoreVictoria’s Blog post this week jogged my memory about classic technology outposts and the steady creep of advancements in tech. I’m copying my response to her as my Blog post.

Part of human nature is to assume that your current experience is everyone’s experience. I was told by an innkeeper in Rome, Italy once about an “ugly American” tourist who returned to the United States shortly after he arrived because he could not find easy access to a peanut butter sandwich. (I know…. It boggles the mind!) Personally, I would give up peanut butter for life if I could eat nothing but authentic Italian cuisine for the rest of my days. Prosciutto? Gelato?  Red wine on the table? Give me a break!

My point is that advances in technology sometimes slowly creep and sometimes shift overnight. Victoria is fortunate in that she can enjoy relative seclusion and isolation and also be connected instantly to a global population if and when she wishes.

In the mid-1980s at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, our phone service was a 5-party party line. (The younger members of the class will have to Google that to understand what I’m saying….!) In Pamona, Illinois the only phone was at the Pamona General Store. It was a classic turn-of-the-century wall mounted “candlestick” phone with a hand-crank to summon the operator. No keypad. No click-dial. No nonsense. It worked great and everyone loved it. To use it, you’d place the call and then give the clerk a quarter to pay for the call. In 1992, I lived in Benton, Illinois. Touch-tone service was not available anywhere. You had to switch the phone to “Pulse” in order to use it. To make credit-card calls back to the office, I had to dial AT&T’s 800 number operator and have her manually key in the number.

Now, cell phones make that a quaint memory.

Think about all the cinematic drama that would have been rendered useless with a simple cell phone. At the beginning of the movie “Die Hard” the thieves cut all the telephone lines going into the entire building so that no one in the building can summon help. Die HardThe only way the hero, John McClane, can contact the police is by killing one of them and capturing his radio. (Which is conveniently programed to transmit on the police radio frequency.) Just think: if everyone at the party had a cell phone, the movie would have been over in 30 minutes.

Contrast that with the experience that airline passengers that are stuck on the tarmac for lengthy periods of time. Nowadays, they call their families, the news media, and in one case, one passenger called the president of the airline to ask him what he intended to do to get him off the plane.

Access to communication tools often get instant results.


Written by digitalanalogues

June 13, 2012 at 4:50 PM

2 Responses

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  1. Not only would McClane have been able to call the police quickly, but so many other awkward situations in movies past could have been avoided by a simple cellphone call to let someone know they were on their way over. In current movies I find that Hollywood is taking into account the usage of cellphones by almost everybody. In heist movies, such as Inside Man, the robbers collect all the cellphones. In scary, isolated movies, their is always no service. (This is the toughest one for me to believe in modern cellphone times, because on my phone their is an emergency call feature. Even if I do not have service, my emergency call will go through to whatever tower and allow me to contact authorities.) Even in the movie Black Sheep, with Chris Farley, which was filmed in 1996 before the big cellphone push, they accounted for the no service idea as he was isolated in the woods. Hollywood has done a good job adapting to the usage of cellphones in their plot lines, but some of the ways they do it seem unbelievable at times.

    Ryan Ivemeyer

    June 17, 2012 at 11:01 AM

  2. As much as I love any food containing peanut butter, I’m open to everyone’s point of view in life. How can anybody grow as a person when their stuck doing the same thing. It is beneficial to us as humans to try new things so that the entire human race can learn and grow from our collective experiences. If everyone wanted to continue doing the same thing for the rest of their lives, there would be no point to being human. We would not be able to advance as a collective unit and our technology would not be as advanced as it is today. For instance, if everyone loved the radio so much that they never wanted any other form of entertainment, we would miss out on television as well as the internet. It is important to be open to new ideas so that later generations can benefit from our curiosity.


    June 19, 2012 at 5:51 PM

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