You have to wonder if those first folks clipping that “totally rad” little iPod to their belts 18 years ago today could have ever envisioned 2019. Now, of course, we think nothing of carrying around little mini-computers everyday.

Dick Tracy would be proud.

A hard-boiled, comic strip detective created in 1931, the fictional character started toting around a two-way wrist radio in 1946. He got an upgrade to a wrist TV in 1964, not too bad when you consider most folks thought having a color television in their home was “far out” right about that same time.

Kind of amazing isn’t it?

Some fella drawing a little cartoon all those years ago knew one heck of a lot about what was to come. We didn’t actually start streaming television programs until some point in the mid-1990s.

Makes you wonder what premonitions are floating around every day, doesn’t it?

Will we really be waving little wands around in another few decades just like in Harry Potter when fans of the books and movies grow up to be scientists and computer techs? Or, will we instead be battling zombies like a whole wad of shows seem to want us to think?

Will our police officers race to newly revitalized phone booths, slip into bright shiny spandex and literally fly through the air?

Or, will our cars actually be big robots?

Wait a second. That one might be a bad example.

Our cars already are big robots. They just don’t do all the bendy transformations like in that kids’ show turned movie.

Vehicles already think for themselves (sometimes more than you want them to) and it is a little disconcerting. They can tell you when you are drifting out of a lane, they can park for you, select the best route you should drive and, coming soon, drive themselves.

It’s a little scary, isn’t it, when you think that just 18 years ago, a little machine that could electronically store a bunch of songs was considered cutting edge.

Are we better off because of it?

I don’t know about you, but about the time my cellphone rings or dings for the 47th time in a single hour I find it incredibly hard to believe.

Yipee. I’m all but plugged in.

They made a movie about being plugged in 1999. Called it “The Matrix.” We human folk were, for the most part, not the winners in that little drama.

And, you have to wonder if we are in today’s real world.

Like so many folks over the age of 25, I find myself wishing, at times, for that mystical “simpler life.” I’m not sure any more that it really existed, but a few “unplugged” days sound mighty appealing every now and again.

I suppose that means I will have to find a happy medium between joy at the invention of air-conditioning and the rustic wonder of sleeping in the great outdoors (aka becoming mosquito bait).

There is one advantage, however. You see this column has been brought to you not only by one working mind and two typing hands, but also, if they were in a good mood today, several different computer systems.

So if you didn’t enjoy it, let’s blame it on the computer system. There’s no telling what it did to it.

Ah, progress, you’ve got to love it don’t you?




– Shannon Crabtree is editor & publisher of the El Campo Leader-News.

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