In my lifetime, I have been given conflicting predictions for, assurances about, and visions of the future involving, computers.
In the 1980s, as a child, I was taught that in the future computers would do cool things like ‘be holograms’ and send faxes. we were led to believe the next step were robots; both malevolent and violent robots, and sassy, irreverent ones. As children we imagined them talking in cute, tinny electrical voices; offering friendship and having their cheekiness be the a catalyst for adventures. Either that or killing everyone.
By the 1990s the dream had flattened, narrowed, and focused on the practical. Computers and the tube that linked most of them together (which Al Gore had named the internet,) would be useful, but only to do mundane things like ‘typing’, ‘help you shop’ and ‘act as a pornography delivery agent in lieu of a VHS cassette’.
By 2006 the future of the computer was seen as bleak. In 2007 the US Treasury prophetically declared that computers were ‘pointless’ and would all soon be obsolete.
Now, in this the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Thirteen, we have seen that the 2007 proclamation has largely come to pass. Computers have been surpassed in their once idolised position as the ‘thing of the future’ by DVDs, big televisions, iPhones and serious developments in fabric technology that has made wearing jackets fun for children.
As we all know, with the cold twenty-twenty vision of hindsight, computers have their purpose but that purpose is limited. Don’t, however, take your computer and throw it in the face of the next person to knock at your door. That would be senselessly violent and there are still five things you can use a computer for:
Social media is a trendy word for Facebook and Twitter and texts and stuff. If you are ever actually talking about it, in any technical sense, you call each type of social media by its actual name. Like you say, “To look at my photos on Facebook first you need to add me as a friend on Facebook because I locked down my Facebook profile to stop that creep Claudius perving at them.”
If, however, you are really proud of the fact you know how to use Facebook and Twitter, you call it ‘social media.’ Say you are going for a job, and you want to tell people that you know how to use Facebook or Twitter or Friendster, you don’t say “I’m good at Facebook, and Twitter, and a bit Friendster” you say “I’m a social media guru” or, even better, “I’m a social media mogul.”
Note, ‘mogul’ in this case doesn’t mean you own a social media company. If you did, you wouldn’t be applying for a job would you. No, it just means you know how to use social media.
The same way if you can work a toaster-oven you always list that as a skill when applying for employment.
The internet is actually now mainly cats. No-one knows why this is, or when it changed from being a pornography transfer system to being an archive of cute cat pictures, but I am going to say 8 February, 2002.
There is pretty much no limit to the different breeds, colours and amusing cat facial expressions represented on the internet, and because the internet is often accessed through computers it makes the computer a comprehensive archive of cat pictures.
One of the problems with this is, while we can all forget our troubles in a fug of adorability looking at Maru climbing about in a World War One bi-plane (complete with flying goggles…awww…) none of the information is any use. If, for instance, your cat accidentally eats some poison and in a fevered hurry you were to type ‘cats’ into Ask Jeeves, chances are you’d only get cute cat pictures. Even if you typed ‘Claudius left poison lying around and the cat ate it, help’ you’d probably, at best, get Grumpy Cat dressed as the Roman Emperor Claudius.
Adorable, but not much use in a crisis.
Computers aren’t just used to access the cat/porn database (note: in this case the ‘/’ refers to AND…). Let no-one tell you your computer is just a forty kilo paper-weight when it is offline; they are almost as good as a typewriter.
It is a little known fact, but deep inside every computer there is a series of programmes designed for typing, number charts, and playing primitive games.
In order to access them first you must locate them. When you locate the typing programme, which is called Microsoft Word, you work through a series of counter-intuitive riddles and within several years you can produce a typed document that is, for my money, at least eighty per cent as good as a handwritten note.
Once upon a time, arguing was the preserve of Kings and Queens, in fine robes, in Argument Salons in only the finest Capitals of the World. The internet, as well as giving you access to several different types of information, has democracised the world of arguing.
The internet means that anyone, regardless of age, rank, creed, intelligence, level of understanding, level of personal hygiene, taste in music, understanding of political process, basic grasp of history, level of realisation as to the severity of what the Nazis actually did, basic human compassion, and understanding of grammar can hold the strongest opinion on anything.
Surely it is a giant step forward in the march of human civilisation that you can raise a reasoned point that over-fishing is the primary reasons why some species of fish have all but disappeared from the Southern Ocean, and get one Facebook ‘like’, and Claudius’ response ‘u dum fuk’ will get fifteen.
Painting your house before you actually have to paint it
This technology has been around for some time, in the 1980s the first computer consoles appeared in home decoration shops which enabled you to choose a colour scheme and see what it looked like on some pre-loaded, generic house designs. Some programmes even allowed you to match colours for interior rooms as well.
Things have come a long way however. You now no-longer have to go into the home decoration shop, or use a pre-loaded generic house. You can access the colour matching programmes from your own computer and some of them even allow you to load a picture of your own house, or rooms, into them.
I actually am not sure how you do this though.