In the past few years we have seen smartphones, such as the iPhone, and tablet computers, such as the iPad, change the way people do their work and interact. Texting has become a way of life (and death) for many and WiFi has become ubiquitous.
We are once again on the verge of another turn of the technological wheel and the world will never be the same again. There is a dark side to the constant technological change, however. The constant pressure of change has created a world society split between the technological haves and the have nots. This split does not follow national, political or social lines. It splits families and friends. It creates new social dynamics through opening and closing channels of communication.
As genealogists, we are caught up in this rapidly changing world, whether we like it, accept it or even fight against it, or not. So what caused this periodic reflection on my part? The introduction of yet another version of Apple's Operating System, called Mountain Lion.
What if you woke up today and the news was that with the introduction of the new model cars, they would no longer run on gasoline and that all the gas in the world would be used up and then your car would no longer run? What would your car be worth? This happens every time a new computer operating system comes out. The results might not be as dramatic as my gasoline example, but they are just as effective at making your older model obsolete and unusable.
Taking my car example a bit further, when new model cars come out, unless I am in the market for a new car, the introduction is a non-event. I could care less. I can keep driving my car as long as I want to maintain it. I usually keep a car anywhere from five to fifteen years (or more). I don't feel compelled to sell any of my vehicles until their value falls below the cost of repairs. I am not into restoration.
OK, but what happens if I have the same attitude towards computers? The difference is dramatic. Right now, for example, if I were still using a fifteen year old computer, I would not be able to buy even one genealogy program (except Personal Ancestral File and a few other similar programs) that would run on my computer. What is even more serious is that none of the connectors on my old computer would work with any of the newer equipment. I would have a difficult, if not impossible task in connecting to the Internet and my computer would have neither the memory storage capacity nor the speed to operate with downloaded programs from the Internet. I would not be able to buy even one new program that would work with my old operating system.
But these types of changes in computers are not just incremental. The new Apple OSX, Mountain Lion, is an example of the changes that are literally forced on the electronic users. Here are the hardware requirements for the new operating system:
- iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
- MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
- MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
- Xserve (Early 2009)
- MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
- Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
- Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
Here are some additional requirements for Mountain Lion including hardware:
- OS X v10.6.8 or later
- 2GB of memory
- 8GB of available space
- Some features require an Apple ID; terms apply.
- Some features require a compatible Internet service provider; fees may apply.
How soon will you need to buy a new computer? The first time you want to take advantage of some new innovation or software product and it turns out you cannot upgrade your present one. If you wish, you can live with your present computer the rest of your life, just don't expect anyone to be able to use your data.
I will likely have a lot more to say about this, especially the part about data obsolescence.