Radiogurl a la Carte

2003-11-15
Howdy Doody

I’m baaaaaack!

Yes, they DID allow me on line again. Funny thing about paying your bills. The cable company doesn’t care how insane you are, you get your Internet when you slap down way too much money every month.

However, non-payment wasn’t the cause for my absenteeism. I blew out my hard drive on my home computer, or at least thought I did. Turns out nobody has quite figured out what happened, but apparently it’s now fixed, albeit after much wandering through multiple electronics stores.

The reason for the week’s delay in repairs is that I live in a town where there are no computer parts. Oh, you can pick up the odd printer and maybe even a sound card at Wal Mart, but for anything more serious than a busted eardrum that also blew out your computer, you have to drive about 80 miles one-way and go to Computer Glutton Heaven*, a mega-store that is about a square mile of geek ambrosia.

We spent a good period of time discussing the merits of different processor fans, then moved on to the big stuff – literally – as in, big computer screens.

If you buy a complete computer setup now – box, keyboard, mouse, and monitor – you’re pretty well guaranteed to get a 17” monitor. However, for anyone who’s been on computers for more than a couple of years, you probably remember the OLD monitors – 13-14” diagonal (or less), as few as 16 colors (that’s sixteen, not sixteen million).

I have one of the old-fashioned CRT monitors – which is geek-ese for ‘a fat one that is deeper than my TV’. But we were looking at the flat-screen monitors, the ones thin enough to leave room on the desk for spilled coffee and lots of candy wrappers, and still have space left for that plate of spaghetti. Oh, sorry – we weren’t talking about my desk. *Rewind and delete part of prior sentence* … enough to leave room on the desk for your papers and pens and other office supplies.

It’s a bit like watching the evolution of television all over again. The original version was a 9” screen in a huge box. The first 20” TV was a VERY. BIG. DEAL.

Well guess what. The new 21” flat-screen monitors are out, and they are extremely cool. However, I am now beginning to wonder how far the monitor revolution will go. Will we see monitors that are larger than our desks, perhaps built into the walls of upscale housing? Or will we forego the monitor altogether in a few more years, implanting a virtual reality chip in the optic nerve or the brain at birth, along with a wireless modem that connects to the Internet with the sound of a certain word or by mere thought, eliminating the need for external hardware altogether? Will the computer wave of the future be no computer at all?

And lest you scoff that it’s not technologically possible, read up on nanotechnology, mini-robots near so small they can flow through blood vessels, and capable of doing repairs from inside a body and manipulating materials on a molecular basis. Science fiction? Nope. On the drawing board as of this moment – if not in preliminary experimental stages already.

I remember watching Walter Cronkite’s series called 21st Century when I was a kid. In it, Mr. Cronkite presented all sorts of fantastic predictions. Some didn’t come true – but more than a few DID. Even twenty years ago, who really believed that the time would come when households had more than one personal computer? That we’d carry briefcases that were actually compact machines more powerful and vastly more diverse than the U.S. Military’s block-long monster-computer back in the middle of the 20th century?

George Orwell had a lot of things right, too – but my best guess is that Big Brother won’t be watching from outside. There will be a chip in place to monitor your thoughts and emotions. Just imagine – a criminal act thought of and squelched. No more crime.

Of course, the definition of crime varies from one society to another. Will it be criminal to speak out against our government? Will you risk your job for thinking that the President or Prime Minister is an idiot? In the Middle East, will residents be forced by computer to serve Mohammad? In China, will all religion be forced out by bytes and bits? Here in the US, which faction will win the battle – the Madeline Murray O’Hares, or the Christian Fundamentalists? Will we hold onto our delusions of privacy? Of freedom?

The computer chips are a guarantee. They will happen, whether or not in the precise format I described. We will become a planet of bioengineered beings, a blend of man and machine. And while most will hail it as an end to anarchy, it will also put an end to humanity. For thousands of years we’ve been trying to find a meeting of the minds, and it hasn’t happened yet. The only way we will all live in perfect harmony is if we are forced to live by the mindset of one person. It will be the ultimate dictatorship, and one from which we cannot escape.

And worst of all, it will be our own doing.

* The names have been changed to protect the rich. Incidentally, I only put a link to one of hundreds of sites on nanotechnology - take a look on Google if you doubt me.

Before - After

In the grander scheme of things, no soul can truly be replaced. Each one of us has a place in the universal tapestry. We each contribute our own color and texture. When one thread is snipped too soon, it distorts all the threads around it. Other lives can unravel and tear. If the wrong thread is ripped away, the whole fabric of life becomes dangerously fragile.
- LeiLani, aka Radiogurl aka Bright Opal (1957 - )