The Ant Hill
by Anthony Jovinelli
Beta Trials: for those of you who may not already be familiar with this term, these are clinical tests done by a company before a product is released or re-released for commercial or personal use. Though this term usually refers to computers or electronic devices, it is used by most industries that supply products for sale to the public. Items are sent to non-corporate sites and/or are exposed to select individuals to be tested for reliability, accuracy, potential glitches and safety. This is so a company can get an idea of how their product will hold up when exposed to the “Real-World” affects to the life of the item. In some cases a product may be redesigned or reworked and Beta tested again. This is how we may get the terms 1.8 or 2.0, etc.
My grandparents were all born around the beginning of the 20th century. Their families left their homes in Italy and they migrated to the United States. They huddled together in tight knit ethnic communities out of necessity. They were completely cut off from the culture and language that they left behind. The need to adapt was necessary in order to survive. The World was not very user friendly at that time.
My parents were both born in the early Thirties. They remembered what it was like when our country was actually at a war that the people backed and didn’t ridicule. There was a real threat to freedom, forming in Europe and Patriots and Heroes needed to fight for World peace. They were the first generation to get electronic communication delivered to their homes. Telephones usage was growing and most households either had one or knew someone that did. They received their daily news and entertainment through radio broadcast as they sat around a large piece of furniture to listen to a Presidential Fireside Chat or serial shows like Little Orphan Annie or The lone Ranger. Progress is making the world a little more user friendly.
I was born in what was considered the tail end of the Baby-Boomer generation. The year was 1958 (In case you don’t have a calculator on your phone, I’m 54). So, what does that mean? Well, I survived being born to a mother who probably smoked and drank during pregnancy. Who put me to sleep on my stomach in a crib covered in brightly colored lead-based paint. As a child, I rode in a car without Airbags, a booster seat or possibly even seat belts. Don’t even get me started on how much fun it was to drive to vacation in the very back of the family station wagon and wave to complete strangers or play punch buggy with whoever was sitting there with you. And riding in the back of a pick-up truck was a special treat on a warm summer day.
We played outside and drank water right from the garden hose. Being sent to your room was a punishment only soothed by the comic books hidden under the mattress. I vaguely remember John F. Kennedy being assassinated and the nation actually cared. The night Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon was such an accomplishment that most of the world was glued to whatever local television could be found. For years I played with model rockets, using only my imagination to fly through space.
Because of my age, I have been trained in and am qualified to operate rotary, touch-tone, pay, cordless, bag, cell and smart phones. I learned to drive in a car that had enough steel to build a half a dozen Prius’ with a trunk big enough to hold two smart cars. It got a whopping 10 miles to the gallon (15 on highways). It drove on Bias-belted tires and if you don’t know what re-treads are, well there’s something special for you to Google. During my life time, the world has gotten a lot smaller and a lot more user friendly.
I have to scratch my head though when I hear someone downloads the Glee version of “I want to hold your hand” through the iTunes app on there smart phone and honestly don’t know that it is a cover. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. I have written this story on a laptop that I can take with me anywhere but remember when you needed an auditorium for the components needed to run a calculator. I will be checking my facebook status later on my Ipad but I’ll never forget the long nights actually talking on the phone to my girlfriend (who is now my wife).
The world is so much smaller now then it ever was just a hundred years ago. Crossing the Atlantic used to take months, it now takes hours. Sending a message took days it now takes minutes (the buttons on my phone are small, so I still can’t type that fast and usually make a mistake or two, or three…). So I just need to ask, have we gotten to small, to user friendly, to future oriented way to fast? We can communicate with the world, right from our fingertips but what is the use if we have forgotten what it is to actually communicate with each other?
Well, contrary to popular belief, I do not have my own wing at the Smithsonian Institute. I am not old or vintage, I have just been a long time Beta tester for the world you are living in now.
“The Noblest question in the world is: What good can I do in it?”