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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Techno Granny Show, Technology Teenagers and 30 Somethings Would Not Know About

Technology Teenagers and Under 30’s Would not Know About. Episode 99

Technology has taken us from the Stone Age to the information age but gone are the days when an encyclopedia salesperson could work their way through college selling a 40 volume beautifully hard bound encyclopedia which you felt like a rotten parent if you did not purchase. Now both students, parents and grandparents depend on Wikipedia, a free on line encyclopedia and Wikipedia defines Technology as:
“Technology is a broad concept that deals with usage and knowledge of tools and crafts by the human species and how it affects the species' ability to control and adapt to its environment. A strict definition is elusive; "technology" can refer to material objects of use to humanity, such as machines, hardware or utensils, but can also encompass broader themes, including systems, methods of organization, and techniques.
The human race's use of technology began with the conversion of natural resources into simple tools. The prehistorical discovery of the ability to control fire increased the available sources of food and the invention of the wheel helped humans in travelling in and controlling their environment.”

Joanne Forrester of SI Business Associates and Techno Granny, Joanne Quinn-Smith are two baby boomers who remember unique technologies from the fifties on that were great strides but most teens and under thirties would know nothing about. Just to give you an example most in this group only know Ronald Regan was a president and not a movie star and they only know that from history book. Also they have no idea absolutely what
Woodstock was, can you imagine?! If you are 55 or older you cannot imagine anyone not knowing about the fervor and fun created by Woodstock. You can listen to their discussion at:

So if this entire era of youth doesn’t know about fun how would they know about the trials and tribulations engendered by Party Lines? It’s difficult enough for them to understand what a rotary phone looks like or how it worked or to ever imagine not having dial tone phones. They never ever had to deal with the click, click of a rotary phone and the time it took to dial a number, let alone an unseen operator in a small town who had to connect you. This era would not get the Lili Tomlin laugh in script of “One Ringy, Dingy, two Ringy Dingy.” Nor would they understand about not saying anything on a shared party line that you did not want the town gossip to know or having to pick up the phone in your home and ask someone else in another home to hang up so that you could use the phone for an emergency. As a matter of fact this was rare except in the case of teenagers as people had a lot less free time.

For instance my mother had a wringer washer but still used a scrub board to get out stubborn stains. Also washing clothes was dangerous when I was a teenager before we got an automatic washer. One false move had caught many hands in the wringer washers and I have a horrible tale of losing my Cher style hair to the wringer washer and the subsequent trip to the emergency room.

My mother boiled white clothes in a long copper pot on a coal stove and used that copper pot even when we purchased a gas stove because there were not fourteen different versions of miracle stain removers. All we knew was to boil it to get it sterile and clean.

We still had a coal furnace until I was a teenager and my parents built a new home. That meant that my brothers and sometimes I had to shovel the delivered coal from the sidewalk into the coal cellar, what a dirty job that was but we were never allowed to complain because my father was a coal miner and came home covered in coal dust every day until they finally attached showers to the mine buildings. One of my mother’s greatest excitments when we moved into our new home with a gas furnace was that my father did not have to get up in the middle of the night to stoke the furnace or put more coal on it. There was no thermostat and you had to become an expert at how much coal would make it warm enough but not too hot. If it got too hot the thermostat was opening t he window or door for a while.

As a matter of fact what was hot then is probably not now. For instance both music and news were disseminated much differently than now. The radio, precursor to the TV had only AM stations with loads of advertisement until FM with no advertisments became much more popular I think in the sixties. Also vinyl records and a single spindle turntable replaced the wind up victrola and wax records. The new technologically superior records came in 45, 16 and 76. I used to think it was inches and then I realized that it was RPM’s which meant revolutions per minute or how many times the record went around that spindle. And of course everything was monaural which no one even knows the meaning of now but it meant that the music was definitely not in stereo or hi-fidelity yet alone Dolby sound or digital.

The truth is radio was the staple of entertainment until Televisions became inexpensive enough for mass consumption and gathering around the radio to listen to “
The Shadow” or Amos and Andy was considered a family event and a real treat. Then in the sixties music of course started to go to tapes, first 8 tracks and then cassettes and most teenagers will not know that music was ever “taped.”

Likewise it was a big deal when the news was broadcast twice in one day; all day news channels were unheard of. There were I think at most four channels and most of them were local. Black and white movies were once the rule and t he news came on newsreels before the movie. So you got the world news at the same time that you saw a movie often instead of previews.

In addition batteries were not included with any toys because most of them wound up as did alarm clocks and watches and you could do the dishes in the time it took the TV to warm up.

Once home movie cameras became popular, you had to thread the film from a spindle onto a projector and then show it on a screen or a sheet on the wall which you had to set up and of course until Super 8 was invented, they had no sound. Imagine no digital cameras, how would today’s teens survive without being able to e-mail funny pictures right from their cell phone.

Speaking of funny, cartoons were made my many artists assembling a collection of picture with characters in progressive poses and running them quickly thru a projector to create the first Mickey Mouse. That’s how Walt Disney who created Disney World got his start.

Not only were there no fantasy parks but toys were very simple. The slinky was made out of tin and not plastic or aluminum and it often got tangled up and broken. Ball bearing roller skates were a very big deal and they attached to your shoes and you needed a key to tighten them up or get them off. The kids wore the keys around their necks like the Medal of Honor. Bicycles were the best mode of transportation but the brakes were in the pedals and they were run by foot power and you really got some exercise because there were not ten speeds or $10,000.00 racing bikes with gears.

But we certainly had our fun anyway with Pinball machines that had flippers and crazy things that popped up and lights that lit up and everyone stood around to watch until their turn to put a quarter in. No one needed an extra controller because the controller was your hands. And hands controlled the scoreboards at sports events also. For years the scoreboard was a chalk board written on by the scorekeeper. Technology affected many sports especially bowling. Many high school boys got their date money by being a pin setter at the bowling alley and had to be agile enough before the bowler put the next ball down the alley.

Cars had manual steering and no power brakes and manual transmissions were the rule not just for sports cars. Now you can pay a lot of money for a five speed transmission when you got a three speed as standard equipment when I was an adolescent.

But the truth of the matter is, most of us would not trade our technological advances for the fast paced ones of today because one thing was for sure, we played outside and invented games instead of spending $40.00 to $60.00 to buy the latest and greatest for our multiple game systems. Although we had less leisure time because our technology was primitive by popular standards, one thing was for sure we had plenty of time to make some great friends and some great memories with those friends and also with our families. Baby boomers would often debate whether technology has helped or hurt us. The jury is still out and now I must Save this on my computer after I spell check and I am glad I don’t have to use a roll eraser for all of the mistakes that I made before I upload to my blog on the internet. Whether it is good or bad, I am not sure that the Techno Granny is willing to go backwards to travelling to Iceland or Australia to regularly meet with my good friends that I have never met in person but have developed a relationship with over the internet.

This blog post can be reproduced in its entirety with the following information:
© Joanne Quinn-Smith, Techno Granny Show™ 412-628-5048
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Joanne Quinn-Smith is the Creative Energy Officer of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and an expert on Web 2.0 Branding.

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