Monday, April 05, 2021

A set up for what will follow...


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has this to say about Evolving Technologies :

Anything existing during the first third of your life, is normal and just part of the usual way things work.
Anything invented during the second third of your life, is new and exciting (and something maybe you can get a career in !)
Anything invented during the last third of your life, is disruptive and against the natural order of things. (1)

There is clearly generational thing at work here.

I'm really at core a late 60's kid, and was framed by parents who grew up at the end of the Depression / during the 2nd War. I'm technically the last year of 'post war' (b. 1955), that very real 10 year bulge in births.
If I had taken a very definite fork of choice in 1978, I would have ended up with my own children in the early 1980’s. Which would put them about 40, (and likely also make me a grandfather now).
I always considered a 'generation' to be defined by ‘birth to child making’, so at best 20 - 25 years. This has been massively compressed of late, with every cohort passing university age wanting to have their own ‘special and distinctive’ label (2):

I also grew up well below the poverty line. A 'ward of the state' since about 1968 (at 13). Over my entire working life, my very best income year was 1991, when my income was roughly twice that current minimum wage. Since that year, I have never had enough income to put me over the ‘minimum for income tax’ amount. (3) So the escalation of 'consumer culture' has had limited impact on me.
Even television, since in '68 we still owned my parent's roughly 1960 b&w set, which often did not work because of failing tubes (and cost of replacements.) (4)

Different times, different shaping and pressures.

This all is a pre-amble to the next two commentaries I will be posting here.
These are edited versions of a pair of articles I wrote for the Ontario Artisan Blacksmiths Association newsletter, the Iron Trillium (5)

Many readers will find these next two pieces quite opinionated, and certainly I will be expecting ‘younger’ readers (especially Millennials, who have never known a world without ‘smart’ phones) to have quite different viewpoints.


1) Originally by Douglas Adams - Strongly paraphrased, from memory (!)
I have the original set of 26 BBC radio episodes of Hitchhiker’s Guide stuck inside my iPod, set on random play. (A). This specific reference is buried in there some place. It comes up (unpredictably) every so often.

2) Obviously not so simple. For the background preparation, I found a number of quite different divisions and names being proposed. Some use age blocks, some use events, some define (what they chose) as cultural / attitude descriptions. (So no wonder I can’t keep it straight either.)
image source : 

3) Ok, I admit that as a self employed artisan I get to deduct a big chunk of expenses most reading do not. About 90 % of vehicle costs are ‘business’ related. The workshop comprises 2/3 of the footage here, so also allows 2/3 of house operation expenses to be deducted.
Balance this against the fact that the first real ‘holiday’ I had from 1989 onwards was only in 2019 (one week in Cuba). Any other trips away from Central Ontario for the last 30 years have been working ‘holidays’, most at least partially paid for by contracts undertaken.

4) Also because of economics and this lack of media exposure, I joined the Canadian Army Reserves in Fall of 1972 - I had never ‘seen the War in my living room’.

5) I serve as Editor for this quarterly. Normally I limit myself to only one ‘editorial’ commentary per issue. I frequently will contributed a second article, normally something related to ironworking history or current project work. This last issue (January - March 2021) I did not receive very many submissions, and so was really short on content.

Notes on the notes

A) This of itself pretty much proves the point. Bias here described:

I did not own a computer until about 1985 (so I would have been 30, just at the cusp of 'the second third') There was no internet at that point. I have twice had to replace computers, not because they failed or did not adequately perform all the tasks I require to run my business, web sites, or research. But because required 'official' internet sites would not accept access from 'older and slower' machines. My current desktop is a Mac Mini, 2014 issue (bought in 2016) working OS 10.10 (top end for that machine). I work a LOT on this machine, normally mornings from (average) 7 am through to lunch time. (see this blog, the web site)

Popular Mp3 players date to roughly the mid 1990’s (I would have been about 35 - ‘in the second third’.) My first player was an off brand, purchased about a decade later (which I never was that happy with). Some point (about 2008?)  I would buy a second hand iPod Shuffle 1 (issued 2005). This was followed by a second hand iPod Mini (issued 2004). I currently have a Shuffle 3 (used, issued 2009) and a Touch 1 (issued 2007, new about 2014). This would place my use of all this still ‘in the second third’. All these replacements were made on the failure of the previous object (not for ‘style’).

I did not own a cellular phone of any kind until after 2005 +. This was certainly just a phone, and was purchased and used for travel emergencies and to call in credit card authorizations at craft shows. Only. (It was never switched on if I was not traveling). I did not purchase a 'smart' phone until about 2015, and even then only because I could no longer buy a replacement battery for that older cell phone (which did everything I needed anyway). I do not have any kind of data plan, and have never used the phone as a teeny tiny replacement for a computer. 

I do have an iPad Mini, (OS 9, about 2016). (This also a generous gift.) It allows me a small 'computer' device when traveling: internet access, work and research images, copies of lectures, and certainly holding book files. It gets used at home primarily for fast internet searches to check facts while watching (previously downloaded) documentaries or films, simple games. 

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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