Hello, My Name Is…

Jan and I am a technology immigrant. There are three generations that currently exist in the cyber world: technology aliens, immigrants and natives. I bet you know one in each generation. The aliens still exist in the dark ages – no email address, no smart phone and absolutely no computer at home. After all it is a fad and just like the 8-track player will eventually fade away into oblivion, right? Don’t try to fight it, it is a badge of honor for them to be on the outside looking in.

The immigrants were brought into this brave new world kicking and screaming. Some recognized what it was becoming and begrudgingly jumped on board. They created email addresses, learned to surf the web but that’s it. Others embraced this strange new world and dove face first into the deep end of the pool, learning as fast as they could trying to make up for lost time. They were in awe of the capabilities of technology, almost like the feeling of going to Disney World for the first time. They loved it, they couldn’t get enough of it.

And then there are the natives – they never knew anything but the digital world. Their baby toys were small computers. Their moms pacified their cries by handing them their smart phones and watched in amazement at how intuitively they mastered the device. They text and surf faster than the speed of sound. They live their lives through social media. They are wired all the time. They know nothing else.

I am proud to be a technology immigrant and a closet geek, although more and more I seem to have come out of the closet. But I was dragged kicking and screaming into cyber world by my sister-in-law as I was mistakenly one of those who thought computers were just another fad. My sister-in-law plunked me down in front of her computer, tears streaming down my face, and said you will learn this – this is important. I was scared to death, scared I couldn’t cut it, scared I would break it, just plain petrified. She also dragged me to a computer programming class – I hated it. I mean, how could numbers make a computer work? I am now probably one of a only a handful of people remaining who wrote code to solve the quadratic equation in Pascal language – not that it got me anything, but it did teach me about the inner workings of a computer.

Then it came time to buy my first computer. Ah yes, I remember it well. It was a Gateway with a 30 MB hard drive. I was styling. I had the power of the world in my home office. I knew it just couldn’t get any better than this. I had reached the pinnacle of technology. Life was good. Or so I thought. But things changed rapidly and in a few years my poor little Gateway didn’t have the capability to perform common functions. So time for the next latest and greatest. That computer was a Dell – and it came with an 18 inch flat screen! No more mini television as a monitor. Wow – certainly this was the pinnacle of technology. I was in technology heaven. I have to say the Dell served me well – I had it for seven years – a fossil by technology standards. But when it started to act up and the cost to repair it equaled a hefty down payment on a new one, I was once again in the market for the next latest and greatest. Decisions, decisions…

One day, my husband told me he had a long conversation with our neighbor about computers and what we should buy. Our neighbor took him to his home office, had him sit down in front of this huge sleek screen and began to show him some of the features of his computer. (It is important to note that up to that point my husband was a technology alien). He immediately started to play around with it and was surprised at how intuitive it was. He was hooked. He came home that afternoon and said, “Honey, we should get an iMac.” I almost fell off of my chair. The next day I posted on my Facebook status that we were considering going over to the dark side, leaving the Microsoft world and venturing into the world of Apple. My niece immediately called me and said, “Auntie Jan – I am an Apple Genius and I can get you a discount on my family plan.” The rest is history. Today we are the proud parents of an iMac, MacBook Pro and iPhone. The iPad will be the next venture.

So what’s my point? Well, there are a couple. First, I will never forget the first time I did a Keynote presentation on my MacBook Pro and was able to control it from my iPhone. After the presentation a twenty-something young man came up to me and asked me how I did it.  Hallelujah, I had arrived! I finally knew something that a technology native did not. I was validated. Second, I never thought I would ever see the day when my husband would be surfing the internet. He uses it frequently now and realizes what a valuable tool it can be. It has opened up worlds to him and I am grateful for that. Third, and perhaps the most important of all, these tools have changed our lives. We can find and keep in contact with people we never thought we would see or hear from again. We can get and receive information in the blink of an eye. We can master the power of computing even though we struggled with Math and Science. And most of this was because one man had the vision to take technology out of the geek world and make it accessible to and desired by the masses.

Thank you Steve Jobs. Rest in peace. Your legacy will be compared to the likes of Albert Einstein, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. Not too shabby for the likes of just one man!

Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech

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