The tech paradox

We all love technology; the gadgets and geegaws, the jaw-dropping resolutions on our TVs and computer screens, the push-button ease of a website or app, and the fact that most of us are now carrying a mini computer in our pockets that makes calls, takes photos AND has more computing power than the best desktop less than 10 years ago

We love digital cameras, digital music, our collections of home movies that were captured without the use of any film or tape media. Based on revenues, we love our video games more than we love television or movies that employ so many people. We love social networking, and the sense of togetherness it creates even as we spend less actual face time with actual people.

But there is a dark side to the way that technology has changed the world, and while you could easily argue that the benefits outweigh the negatives - I wouldn't turn back the clock for anything - there are bumps in the road nevertheless.

Take the shopping experience. What's left now is that things like books, movies, etc. have been digitized and are readily available over the web, and the stores that sell those things are starting to close? In Whistler we've lost our music store and three-out-of-four movie rental stores in recent years.

In 2010 people purchased more digital ebooks than paper books for the first time, sounding the death knell for the traditional publishing and book store industry, not to mention the thousands of jobs have been lost in pulp and paper industries. There will always be a demand for paper books, but the demand will continue to decrease as more and more of our books are delivered electronically.

The classroom of the near future won't even have textbooks, but tablets with textbooks on them. When a novel is assigned in English class, it will be a download instead of a paper copy students get to take home and sometimes keep. The reality is that kids who grow up in that environment simply won't share the past generations' reverence for hardcovers and paperbacks. Their homes won't have bookshelves. Their towns won't have bookstores.

I also spent a lot of time and money growing up in actual record stores. I can remember a time when a single store would carry records, tapes and CDs - three generations of media that you could probably play on the same hi-fi system at home. That record store experience was important, because that's how we discovered new music back in the day, when our record collections were an important part of our lives and our identities. There was nothing like buying some new music, rushing home with it and putting it on your player for the first time - enjoying the cover art, reading the liner notes and lyrics, and listening to a single band play from first song to last - a whole album experience that's been lost in this era of single song downloads, and a la carte music purchases.

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