Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gadget substitution

Electronic gadgets of all kinds have made a tremendous impact on my entire life and particularly the way I conduct my genealogical research, organize and gather information. One of the most dramatic impacts comes from the inclusion of high quality cameras in smartphones. I can literally carry a camera anywhere I go and take notes or make audio recordings of anything I encounter. If I am so inclined, I can share the images instantly with any one who might be interested.

The camera in my iPhone has not replaced my high-quality DSLR Canon Camera, but it is an amazing supplement. I use the iPhone's camera for all those occasions when I would being saying to myself, I wish I had brought a camera. Surprise, I have one in my pocket!

The real question is whether or not we are going to get buried in a huge pile of gadgets? I think not. My experience is that I do have a tendency to upgrade or replace electronic devices as newer and more powerful models are introduced, but at the same time, some of the things that I carried or used previously I have now abandoned. For example, not too long ago, we donated our last two TVs to Goodwill Industries. One was a 62" Sony Projection TV and the other a CRT 32" High Definition TV. At the same time, we cancelled our cable TV service. We are now discussing the advisability of abandoning our telephone land line. We have discovered that we were not using the TVs or the cable service except as space fillers. Since they are all gone, we have not missed them at all.

We did not stop watching movies or TV programs that we like, we simply moved entirely to the Internet rather than have a duplicative service from the cable company.

I think this is what is happening. Newer devices come out with functions, such as digital camera integration with a telephone and Internet computer connection and over time, we migrate to new ways of doing things and add new functions. Eventually, some of the older functions and methods become abandoned and we no longer consider them to be worth our time.

One thing that has happened as a result of the technological change has been an increase in using the telephone and/or the computer for conferences with multiple people online. For some years, we have set up teleconferences, but they were always quite expensive and awkward to establish. Now that function has become simple and relatively inexpensive. I can now collaborate with entire groups of people across the world on joint projects.

In genealogy, I now regularly receive inquiries from remote relatives who I would never have otherwise become acquainted with. Now, whether or not you are pushing the electronic envelope or being buffeted by the backwash as it passes you by, your life will change and how you use and interact with information will continue to evolve.

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