Here's the Scoop: April 30, 2008

The next big thing
My new theory is that the Internet and e-mail will soon be going the way of the 8-track tape player. Surprisingly, when I tell people this, they often look at me like I possess some privileged information about the technology revolution. And, frankly, many people seem a tad embarrassed that they are not hip enough to be aware of “the next big thing.”
When people get all wide-eyed and excited, I try to add to the mystery. “Let’s just say that the next communication device that Al Gore and I invent will make the Internet look like a Tinker Toy,” I explain.
That’s all I’m going to say about my new invention for the time being.
Although I’m probably not going to have much to do with it, I’m sure there are plenty of folks out there right now, working in moldy basements, coming up with a series of “next big things.” There are also probably lots of well-paid scientist-types in high-tech offices doing the same thing — but that’s not very romantic in terms of inventing. Musty surroundings and taped-together glasses are the key ingredients on the path to discovery.

Jetsons have arrived
I’m actually sometimes shocked by the technological “advances” that we now live with every day. Telephones that do everything except file your nails. Televisions thinner than a baloney sandwich and with the ability to provide hundreds of unnecessary functions — naturally omitting the only desired advance —good programs.
We also have devices satellite devices that tell us where to drive, how long it will take and the quickest route to the next Starbucks. If only these Global Positioning Systems could get folks on interstates to not drive 45 in the passing lane — or keep their signal lights on — forever.
Sometimes when I stop to think about it, I realize that the Jetsons have arrived. We’re not flying around like George and Company — but I’m sure such technology exists. My bet is that some corporation is simply working behind the scenes to monopolize the market on the fuel to power these flying devices — and then it’s off we go.
While a lot of this technology is kind of cool, I’d say that many inventions are kind of useless. I’m sometimes fascinated to go on-line and read blogs from, what should I call them — nerds (and I mean this in the nice way) who write on and on about the wonderful tricks they can make their computers perform. When I read about this type of thing, I usually come away with two questions: “Who cares?” and “Huh?”
On the bright side, it’s good that these Geeks (again, I’m referring to the complimentary definition of the word) are busy discovering hidden (though completely useless, in my opinion) capabilities of their computers, rather than building bombs in the musty basement.