Saturday, 26 April 2008

"Getting It" Followup

Really, the article I wrote on Friday is open to far more analysis than I gave it. When Dad was a boy, crystal sets were the acme of technology. By the time he passed on, shooting the schematic for an entire radio station around the world in under three seconds was commonplace.

We are more connected than anyone else has ever been, outside of the Omnipotent God. We have new words to, for this brave new world. You will be familiar with the following:

networked, personal computer, jetlagged, Mars Rover, PDA, mobile phone, laptop, MP3.

None of those words existed or meant what they now mean, fifty years ago.

For the Internet-and-SMS-savvy, you would know LOL and THX and AFK and a whole slew of acronyms and shortcuts. And any Second Lifers would understand what the words rezzed, poofer, griefer, prims, and avatar mean.

When Gutenberg created the printing press, he not only produced a way for the Bible to be placed in the hands of the masses, he also produced the end of the Englyshe Language as it was known, because now language as free to evolve with each new book authored and published. The lettered upper crust sniffed disdainfully that it was the end of language as we know it - but as we know, the language has evolved to fit our needs and unlike our predecessors, we no longer need to cling to archaic uses of language and instead embrace the new language which is emerging.

In those ancestors' day, reading some books was something you only did secretly and at night for fear of being discovered absorbing this heathenish uneducated patois. Some books could get you executed, and indeed some people were executed for authoring or owning such books. It's an attitude that should have stayed in the Middle Ages - but (sadly) didn't.

Language is always changing to reflect what is happening in our lives. It would be a poor tool for us if it wasn't reactive and responsive. Our habits and daily routines must react and respond to our technology. We would be remiss not to adapt to our environment.

And if the language is changing, we should adjust our lives around this fact. Ask our educators to embrace and disseminate rather than condemn and isolate.

Can you remember ever having to use Shakespearean English or Chaucerian English? Yes it's good to learn about those forms of English but now we just don't have a use for them.

Can you remember what it was like before you had a PC with an always-on Internet connection? You went to bed early or watched TV or read or studied, but now you can get your reading and news and movies and amusement online and does that mean you should grieve that it's the "end of The Bold & The Beautiful" as we know it or perhaps reach out and embrace that we can now watch it online?

And for people like my father whose lives spanned a whole gamut of inventions, he can remember when there was no TV and you read books secretly under your covers with a candle for fear of being discovered by Mother...

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