19 April, 2010

My My My ... How Times Change

Killing some time, waiting for a vendor to show up at one of our satellites. Decide to look up Flunk Day to see if there are any rumors pages I can access and stumble upon The Knox Student website. TKS is a weekly student newspaper for Knox College. They had a couple of articles about Flunk Day but nothing with a link to rumors.

So I clicked around and started reading other articles and came across one entitled ,a href='http://www.theknoxstudent.com/newsroom/article/all-plugged-knoxs-laptop-controversy/'>"All Plugged In: On Knox's Laptop Controversy". My interest piqued, I clicked through.

First off, I was shocked there is a controversy. I thought it was a bygone conclusion that laptops are everywhere and thus belong everywhere. I know in my day, laptops didn't even exist. But then again, neither did color monitors. And our printers were very, very loud. When I went off to college, my dad asked me if I wanted him to buy me a computer for school and it being 1989, I said no thanks, Dad. I'll get a word processor - that's all I need. And I was right. With the exception of a stupid Apple computer that corrupted my floppy disk right before senior finals, I rarely used much more than my word processor.

Had I been born 10 years later and entered Knox the fall of 1999, my answer would have been different, although I doubt the question would have even been asked. By that point, more than likely, I would have gone through an entire junior high and high school career using a computer and my dad would have known that I expected to do the same in college. And by that point, I may have been gifted an IBM Thinkpad 600 with a 300 mHz processor and 5.1 GB of storage. And I would have been on the cutting edge with a machine like that.

When I was a student, the only way to take notes involved ink (or graphite) and paper. Professors spoke fast so it also involved copious amounts of unreadable scribbles stretching across the lined sheets in front of me. The process of going over those notes later for a test inevitably ended in headache.

It seems a little odd that Knox is having this controversy now. Laptops have been in students' hands for over a decade so I have no doubt they have been in the classrooms just as long. Why carry a 4oz notebook when you can haul a 6lb laptop from SMaC to CFA?

Of course, the answer is Facebook. And Twitter. And old fashioned email. “We’re starting to get a generation of students who have always been multitasking ... What a lot of students are weak on now is the ability to focus.” How times change. And how I stay the same. I have always had a problem with focusing - clearly, I was born 20 years too soon. I am of the wrong generation and now know why I have been unable to focus all my life. Facebook. Twitter. Email. It is apparent to me, I have been social networking in my head all of these years, waiting only for a machine that could provide an actual connection to real people rather than the imagined connections to no-doubt the pretend-people in my head. I am so thankful that it has finally caught up with me and given me a forum to truly be my multi-tasking, unfocused, inattentive self.

Thank you Bill Gates! And thank you, Facebook.

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