Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Generation Meh

I was trying to fix the PC this morning, as my brother came back from school, where he had to write his one-exam-before-last. And he came in while I had the tower open and, once he'd finished with all his stupid jokes about "why these cables (the IDEs) are lots-of-cables-connected-as-one and they don't sell them as separate cables", I offered to give him a quick once-over about the basic components in a PC, i.e. which is the motherboard, what basic cards there are on it, what the RAM modules are and what they do, what the hard drives are, without planning to mention anything about jumpers etc. Just for him to know the basics, you know?

His reply, much to my shock, was "why on earth?". And when I just stared at him with wide eyes, not having the faintest idea what to say, he just went on: "I'd rather give 50 € to a guy for him to fix the PC for me, than fill my brain with this useless info, taking up space which I can fill with other, more useful things". And I used to wonder why he wants to be a Civil Engineer instead of an Electronic one, when they're both in the same Universities...

The whole incident, poor recently-repatriated-girl (me), made me wonder how this is possible, for a boy born and, therefore, raised, a mere 8 years (and 9 days) after myself. But, you see, once I thought about it a bit harder (>_<), I decided that it's an OK way to go about it, these days. Back in "my day", there wasn't "a personal computer on (pretty much) every desk and in (pretty much) every home", and you had to know about computers in order to own one. At least the basics. And you had to have a few pals that "knew more than you" if you wanted to get along knowing "the basics". Today, in the glorious year 2008 ("the future", as some grew up viewing it), one really doesn't need to know much to own a computer and work on it. My brother has an ECDL diploma, which pretty much goes to say that he's able to do what the John Hodgman PC does in those Mac-Vs-PC ads, namely use spreadsheets and the works. C' est à dire, all is well for my p'tit frère.

And this all made me think of all the other things that I had as constants, as ideologies which I took for granted, but have actually changed as time went by. Things like my stance in the aforementioned Mac Vs PC debate, which all went haywire once it had been established that, with Intel inside, you could have both the Mac OSX and the Windows of your choice (call me XP, 'till the new win come out at least) to do stuff which you can only do there (i.e. to play games, pretty much). I mean, just name another reason why you won't go Mac now, other than "the X being on the wrong side" (read: the forces of habit).

Or, again, being a person who was once a gamer, I grew up believing that you'd be stupid to get a laptop as your "main computer", since it would call for a "no upgrades, just buying a new PC" policy. But no, that was pretty much true before the glorious days of USB. Now, you're able to connect pretty much anything that matters - from a monitor, to a HDD, to a graphics card - on your lappie via USB, if you so want. Plus, the thing you might need an upgrade of while the warantee is valid is your memory, and most laptops come with a memory upgrade capability (that is to say, most mobos used in laptops can take extra memory modules). You just need to take it back to the shop where you bought them, if youwant to waste that space in your brain for "other, more useful things". Which is, as I tried to express, fair enough.

It's just that I feel so old. And, not having followed the "specialist" path in my life, I also feel that I've wasted a good portion of my brain, and of the time in my life. I mean, come on, what's a geek girl to do, when I no longer even wear my geek-tag? And what am I to tell my nieces and nephews, once I get myself some, if their own father doesn't know, and doesn't even want to know or need to know, about this crap?

Still, all this makes me think of the "younger generation" thoughts that I used to have "back in the day". You see, I was convinced that the "new generation" would evolve being able to know all that it needs to know, about science, computers, or even just plain day-to-day logical thinking, but wouldn't need to care much about anything. And, yes, I now find myself in the melting pot of all this knowledge-of-today, feeling that I'm trying to remain afloat in the sea of knowledge, while wearing my semi-literacy armbands, smattering along with a stupid smile of ignorance re. most important things, while the "new generation" just swims idly by me and floats happily like there's no tomorrow.

I know there are much more stupid people out there. Heck, Than is convinced - and is currently researching the matter, and confirming his beliefs, making me wonder what sort of people he now hangs out with - that most youngsters don't even know what stars are, astronomically - you know, the kind we see in the sky... I'm certain that I'm not "too stupid to be alive", then, sure. But I'm not one of the most knowledgeable people, like I thought I was as a kid, either. Nuh-oh. Which only makes the then-me right, even if it makes the now-me bitter-as-coffee.

"One day", you see, the new generation should be able to look through my huge Google Reader list of the past 5 days' worth of RSS crap (1000+ posts, as it says), and decide in an instant what's important and what to ignore. And, when people in Wired magazine, I think it was (unless it was New Scientist, or something else populist-scientific like all the other magazines I now read), wine that people should start learning more of the basics in primary school, gaining a way of thought which is necessary for a scientifically literate society, I'm kinda optimistic where the new generation is concerned. In the long run, at least. But I can't stop looking at myself with one eyebrow raised now (if only I could raise just one eyebrow) for my current state of un-intelligence. Meh.

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