No Magic

Every so often I look at my phone and imagine how a younger version of me would react upon seeing it. There was a time not too long ago when the technology that so many of us take for granted today would have been seen as pure magic or, depending on the ideologies of the beholder, sheer witchcraft. The honeymoon phase for modern tech seems to have worn off somewhere around 2012 when a large percentage of the population started carrying smartphones. This was when the geeks who used to get laughed at for using a Palm handheld were once again in demand to answer questions from people who had just recently become accustomed to using a mouse to navigate and needed assistance to transition to a touch interface. While I am not typically keen on being the geek that people turn to, I do miss the feelings of wonder and appreciation I would have when encountering a new piece of technology for the first time. The magic that was once part of the essence of cutting-edge technology has gone away.

A lack of magic does not make a device any less useful, but I do wonder if it makes a product less desirable. New computers, upgrades, components, devices, and peripherals were all I could think about when USB 1.1 was all the rage and people were excitedly talking about USB 2.0 and the new era of plug-and-play it would usher in. As it stands, I can have hardware literally fail on me and it will be repaired or otherwise returned to a functioning condition and used until the next failure. Sure, a newer item might be nice, but is it necessary? Not without a little infusion of magic it isn't.

Is this more a consequence of growing old? Is this the result of seeing hardware and software iterated upon a thousand times? Or are modern devices simply less magical feeling than the ones we could only dream to afford a couple of decades ago? My disinterest is likely the result of all three.

Yet every so often I imagine how a younger version of me would react to hold a modern phone, or use a modern notebook. What sort of challenges would be tackled? How quickly would I push up against the envelope of their capabilities? While there's little chance of travelling back in time to hand-deliver modern technology to a younger self, it's sometimes fun to play through a scenario in the mind.