What is an aardvark? When was the moon landing? Where is Mount Vesuvius? When I was a youngster, I would look for answers to these questions in the World Book Encyclopedia. Complete with red leather binding and gold leaf, it was one of my family’s prized possessions. I would pull the appropriate volume off the shelf, flip through the pages in hopes that there was an entry, and read through it looking for the tidbit of information that I needed.
By the standards of the 60s and 70s, that World Book Encyclopedia was a wonderful resource, but in today’s world of Google, Siri, Wikipedia, and the host of other tools clamoring to provide you with instant answers, well… my trusty World Book falls pitifully short.
This new world of technology-aided omniscience is so pervasive that it has completely changed our expectations around what is and isn’t reasonable. We’re past the point of awe or wonder, and even past the point of really appreciating our pocket-sized oracles,(mobile phones). Now we just expect it, and even a second of Youtube buffering delay, or the occasional question that stumps Siri, leads to bemusement and annoyance. This is my experience of progress.
Is this a fair assessment of progress?