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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Wednesday, October 30 2002 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster Life here in the future

Another commercial that gets our attention these days is the Toyota one featuring the auto shows of the '50's, when the cars of the future were featured with many amenities that never materialized or, if they did, were not popular enough to last long (remember Oldsmobile's "electronic eye" that automatically dimmed your headlights? Chrysler Corp's push-button automatic transmissions? Ford's hardtop convertibles?).

It seems that the future has turned out to be very little like the way it was visualized. Most futuristic books and movies have widely missed the mark. Remember 2001, A Space Odyssey? The serious deep-space exploration by 2001 didn't materialize. The computer is the one feature of the film that most nearly came to pass. It was partly right in suggesting a future in which computers would be king (and took most of its audience by surprise), but the way the high technology is treated is little like the way computers were in use by the real 2001. Not only did computers not "take over" and try to control us in the movie's sense but they (through the Internet and their relative affordability) contributed to a widening of the world's democratic aspirations and attainments. It was a factor in the tearing down of the Iron Curtain and is probably the major threat to the continued totalitarian rule of China or anywhere else in the world.

After that segment on the future of computers on the Today Show described yesterday, it was generally known that computers were getting ever-larger roles in our lives. While I was at the University of Pittsburgh, terms like computer labs and courses like programming came into use. Later, at UCLA the English department was offering a computer concordance course that required programming and running the programs on punch cards. I dropped it after the second class meeting in total bafflement.

When I arrived at Stanford (not as a student but an adjunct staff member) in 1972, there were many computers around the campus and discarded punch cards could be picked up in many corners for use as index cards. The future was catching up with us. When I arrived, the $300 Hewlett-Packard algebra calculator was the most-coveted gadget (though not by me, who wouldn't have known how to use it). When I left the campus 11 years later, the personal computer had debuted; the virtual revolution was underway.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Only in America...

—Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for today

Isn't it funny how someone can say "I believe in God" but still follow the devil (who, by the way, also "believes" in God)?

Isn't it funny how you can send a thousand jokes through email and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing?

—Sent by "Cowboy Ted" Lewallen

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