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By Leen Yamani November 19, 2014

The Transition Generation

Illustrated by SOFIYA BAKIROVA

 

Do you remember cassettes? I vaguely recall having to hold down the rewind button on a walkman and watching the tape wind off of one of the "circles" and back onto the other. My older sisters remember putting a pen through the cassette and spinning it like a new year's rattle so they could rewind the whole thing in one go. My parents remember when cassettes were the latest technology, and when there were only two channels on their television, with a single dial that went back and forth between them.

Nowadays each of us has our own phone; we surf through a few dozen websites every day, and do a good deal of our homework and research on a computer screen. And every year there are more new advances in technology. If someone had told me when I was a kid that in just a few years I would have a touch-screen laptop at home, or that everyone I knew would have a little phone with their whole lives on it, I probably would have laughed and thought you were telling me a cool story. But we all carry around some form of gadget today – whether it's a phone, a tablet, or a laptop – and that's not the only technology that has infiltrated our daily lives. Our whole society is filled with devices. Just think of all the public washrooms with automatic water streams and hand-dryers, automatic towel dispensers, and automatic flushing. Just a few decades ago someone would probably have freaked out if their bathroom appliances had started acting independently, but today we put our hands under a tap and wait for the water to come... and then laugh at ourselves when we realize we are supposed to turn the faucet handles – what kind of public washrooms have handles these days?

We're renewing and replacing our technology at amazing speeds; but just how fast are we going? These days we're able to implant sensors into peoples' brains to give them motor function of a prosthetic limb. Right now it seems like an obvious progression of our technology, but I can't help but think that just a short while ago it would have been brushed off as science fiction. We haven't just waded into science fiction; we've jumped into the deep end of the science fiction pool. We can map out our own DNA; we've got honest to god invisibility cloaks in the making!

According to historians, we began an age of computers and communication sometime in the late 1950's. We call this the Digital Revolution, and it's had a great affect on our modern society. Sometimes it seems like that was lifetimes ago, but so many people today were alive then. Many more were alive a few simple decades afterwards, when the latest Industrial Revolution was still going strong in the 70's. The things we take for granted have existed for barely 50 years. The first computer that we would recognize was used in 1949, but the idea of a computer had been around for hundreds of years, evolving from a computer – a person who performs calculations, or computes – to a computer – a machine that does all this, and more. We keep improving and making new technology in order to make things easier on ourselves. Tech may be the result of advancing science and engineering, but it's also what propels us forward at such a great speed.

What I'm really trying to ask is, how fast can we go? I've seen and used floppy disks in my childhood, and I've noticed that the button I press to save a file is a small icon of one. But many kids today don't know that; they've never seen a floppy disk. They've been using USB sticks and hard drives their whole lives. One day maybe their children won't even remember USB sticks, because for them information storage will have transitioned into a new form. That's what we are right now: a transition generation, living in a world of change that is taking place as rapidly as in perhaps any generation in history... But at the rate we're going, it's possible that the future generations will be transition generations as well. What will be the effect on us, on them, on our world, of living through such times?  What are the effects already? Questions for the transition generation.

Sources:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/donnad/27-science-fictions-that-became-science-facts-in-2

http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000984.htm

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/143648-giant-leap-for-bcis-paraplegic-woman-uses-mind-controlled-robotic-arm-to-feed-herself

About the author

Leen Yamani is a second year student in First Choice Pure and Applied Science.

About the illustrator

Sofiya Bakirova's preferred medium is digital painting. Sometimes she scans a sketch done by hand and colours it in Adobe Photoshop or Paintool SAI, or she simply works completely in Adobe Photoshop.

In the future, she would love to do 3D animation because she loves the creation process. Sofiya loves to bring her art to life and animation is a way to do so. Disney and Pixar movies are her main inspirations. Sofiya also finds inspiration by looking at the work of artists on social sites such as Tumblr and DeviantArt.

Comments

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    Nancy Pettinicchio

    November 24, 2014

    Awesome article. How much of this perpetually changing world is really moving in the direction of progress?

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    ltarantino

    November 24, 2014

    Amazing article!
    I really enjoyed your article because each time I read an article discussing the power of today’s technology (and essentially reminding me that I’m reading and processing words from a bright ass computer screen), I’m mind blown all over again.
    Technology is so part of our every day lives that we don’t even realize how much we rely on it. Like you said, we have a tendency to stick our hands under faucets and wait for water, and though I’m not sure automatic doors are classified as technology, I walk into any building that has automatic doors with complete confidence that they will open for me as if I have telekinesis.

    I think technology is great. Seriously. It has made things so much better for us. That may be hard to believe when all we see these days are people staring straight at a screen, simultaneously getting post-traumatic stress as they play Flappy Bird (RIP). But, technology has developed rapidly over the years to provide medical and scientific advances that have significantly helped humanity. Our parents, and many of those much older than us, tend to think of technology as just being our phones, laptops, or televisions. But, it’s so much more than that. Not only does technology, as I said, progressively better medicine and science to our benefit, it also connects us to the rest of the world.

    The Internet, and technology, allows us to get any sort of information we would like in the matter of seconds. Technology allows us to keep in touch with our loves ones without having to send a messenger bird over the Pacific after performing 10 prayers it doesn’t drop dead with your precious letter mid-voyage. Technology allows us to access the news and know exactly what is happening across the world, in a country that you’ve perhaps never even heard of before. Technology also allows us to access, create, and share art. Technology is a way for our generation to express itself and take on all types of endeavors that weren’t available to our parents (Like hopefully becoming a Youtube Star because they get paid a ridiculous amount to talk to a camera).

    However, as you’ve articulated, this does have an effect on us. While technology has a ton of positives, it also makes us a lot lazier, and at times, sort of incapable. Our generation, as you said, has become so used to doing research on our laptops and not even bothering to pull handles by ourselves anymore, that we seem to sort of expect technology to do half of the work for us. My teacher, just last week, was calling us out on complaining about having to do actual research with actual books for our essay. She then went on to talk about “the good old days” where people full on brought camping tents with them to the library and wrote their final wills incase they died mid-research (She didn’t say that but she totally implied it). I think that we shouldn’t let technology affect us too much. And, younger generations certainly shouldn’t it let it affect them. We should get used to doing things for ourselves again, and putting in the extra effort to work hard.  We also shouldn’t get too attached or addicted to technology, since I’ve Netflix-ed so hard thus far that I feel like I’ve lost a significant amount of brain cells. We should, to the best of our ability, make use of the fantastic positive aspects of technology, but avoid the negative aspects of technology.

    P.S. Hopefully the world doesn’t end up too science fiction-y cause I don’t know how I feel about wearing a silver bodysuit with go-go boots.

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    vtanguay

    November 26, 2014

    I think it’s very accurate when you talk about the surrealism of technology and how advanced it is. It’s hard to believe how quickly and effectively it has developed omnipresence in our daily lives. It’s no longer a privilege, but more a necessity to possess a computer, a smart phone and an iPod. I mean, entire course syllabi are created completely based on the expectation that everyone owns a computer.  We really take technology as a whole for granted. It’s slightly disturbing to think that the following generation will be completely raised on these devices, and their dependence will perhaps be greater and more intense than ours.

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    Jordan Stoopler

    November 27, 2014

    I really enjoyed this piece. As strange as it sounds, I do remember listening to old cassettes when I was very young so the opening anecdote was really powerful and resonated with me.

    It is truly remarkable just how far our society has come over time. It mind-boggles me how technology is constantly evolving and creating news gadgets and items that continue to top existing ones. I had no idea that motor function could be enacted in a person’s brain to give them the power of working a prosthetic limb. I guess that technology is simply going too fast for me to enjoy the ride.

    I also particularly enjoyed the historical background you provided when it came to the different revolutions and change that occurred over the past fifty years. The “computer” reference and its different meanings was very well said and clever as well.

    It seems like we are truly in that progression stage where things are evolving rapidly and with no end in sight. I feel like this sense of change will only continue and take on a much more prominent role in our lives as we continue to age. I marvel at the discoveries and cannot possibly wrap my head around the inevitable new innovations that will make their way into our society in the years to come.

    The questions you ask are completely warranted and allow for a moment of thought to ponder the implications of this rapid change. There are simply no answers yet, I guess we will have to wait and see what the future brings!

    Well written and reflective piece. Great work! 

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    nicole

    November 30, 2014

    Your article touches upon a really important topic, especially for today’s generation. I think you reached for really great points! What stood out for me the most is when you explained how your sisters use to take pens to wind up the cassettes, and how you barely remember having to hold down the rewind button. Your opening sentence really intrigued me, especially since I have a younger brother, so I understand this entirely. It’s not rare when I find myself thinking of the difference my brother and I have had with technology, and we only have 7 years apart. I remember getting my first phone in high school, and by god surfing the Internet was extremely slow on it. Before my brother has even reached high school he’s already explored the wonders of an iPod touch, and an iPad. It blows my mind how things have changed so quickly as you explore in your article. You raise good, and important questions… It really made me think more about how quickly technology is changing, and made me wonder if it can turn into a problem in the long run.

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    CourtneyD

    December 1, 2014

    I really loved this piece. Not only can everyone relate to it, but everything you say is completely true. We basically need technology to get around these days, which makes me wonder what it’s going to be like years from now when a life without technology is unthinkable. When the iPod touch came out, everyone was so amazed that you could control it just by touching the screen with your finger, but now we’re all used to it, so who’s to say that decades from now the iPod won’t be old news and forgotten, just as cassettes and the Walkman are? I always find it funny when I pick up my 10 year old cousin at school and see all the kids on their phones and iPads instead of playing in the field like we did at the end of the day when we were in elementary. I hope that future generations don’t depend too much on technology, but instead know that it’s there if needed and not something that does all their work for them.

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    saniamalik

    December 5, 2014

    This article made me reflect on many things, especially one thing that you wrote: we are the transition generation. I remember watching moves through VCRs and my younger cousins today don’t know what a VCR is; they’ve never even seen one. It is a bit strange to think about how one day, our world won’t be using DVDs either. This world is constantly advancing, and I think technology is a major reason for that. I feel like in a blink of an eye, things can change. Before, technology was seen as a luxury whereas now, it’s odd if someone doesn’t have a computer. The question of how fast we can go is very interesting. I think that these days, we’re going extremely fast and it is a possibility that future generations will also be transition generations.

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    Jessica Asfour

    December 6, 2014

    I really enjoyed reading this article! I felt like it fully captured our societies constant development and dependence on technology. I think it’s good that we have been able to be under constant development and upgrade. This modern day society has become so dependent on these aspects, therefore without it I don’t know how we’d be able to function. Nowadays it is impossible to see anyone not carrying a cellphone in their hands, and not any phone, but the latest. Not only is it impossible to see an adult not holding a cellphone, but also children. Parents have found the perfect solution to keep their children busy so they don’t have to deal with them. This could be a problem but also a solution. Its not very assuring to think that ones child will grow to become so dependent on technology considering they have started using them at such a young age. On the other hand they are able to take in a lot of knowledge at the same time. Being one that was born in the times where cassettes where the latest technology gets me annoyed when I see my little cousins playing with their parents IPhones. It makes me think that these children aren’t going to get the ideal childhood experiences that I did. Technology can really take over a child’s interest in playing outside. Whatever happened to playing with balls, and dolls?
    I completely agree with your statement about the speed that these updates are going at. How much more improved can technology get? We have already become so dependent, I can’t imagine what they will come up in about 10 years from now.

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    Paulina

    December 7, 2014

    I think your article was very well written and relevant to every reader. In writing about the quick transition of technology, you have brought the issue to the reader’s attention. You made us realize just how much one does depend on these gadgets. I was intrigued by your use of evolutionary technological progression and how you articulated just how fast technology is changing. It’s hard to believe that some day my children will be even more dependent on technology than I am presently, but what’s even more difficult to wrap my head around is the idea that I cannot escape technology. Like you mentioned, it is apart of our daily lives; communication, education, leisure, etc. Overall, your article is very well done, especially on your thought-provoking concluding statements.

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    hbc

    December 7, 2014

    I very much enjoyed reading your article and getting your thoughts on our societies transition from different technological worlds. I enjoyed your few spots of humour especially the part where you made the joke about automated faucets in bathroom and how we don’t realize the times where we actually have to turn the handles. You gave phenomenal insight into the developing world of technology and where it could be possibly heading in years to come. We are so dependent on technology that we very rarely realize nowadays the finer things in life. As well, you portrayed your thoughts fantastically well which made the article incredibly easy and very fun to read. You garnered my curiosity as to what technology has in store for us in coming years!

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    Melissa29

    December 7, 2014

    This piece is not only relatable, but thought-provoking. Each of us has seen the world being reshaped and moulded to suit the ever-growing needs of our society. However, we oftentimes take these technological advances for granted, not truly grasping how far our world has come in the past decades. This article has truly opened my eyes to the fact that we as a society should be proud of the immense progression that has been made by hardworking and innovative individuals. We certainly owe our gratitude to them, as they persistently push the boundaries and, in turn, elevate our world to the best it can be.

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