My favorite Christmas toy of all time was “Missile Command.”
This grey chunk of molded plastic had a Command Center and four reloadable rocket launchers on each corner. I would strategically locate other pieces around my kingdom and shoot down alien spacecraft entering my airspace.
I was in charge here.
As toys go, by today’s standards it was a piece of junk that not even Goodwill would accept. Now we have mind-blowing electronic gadgets with enough technology inside to land a man on the moon.
What got me to think about Missile Command was an announcement that LinkedIn had added new features to its site. I joined LinkedIn years ago but never really went beyond posting my work history. It led me to think that I should dive deeper and learn how to mine its rich set of data.
I started to think the same about Twitter, where millions post comments at a pace that makes freeway traffic seem slow. That caused me to reflect similarly about how I use Facebook, and on and on. Keeping up with the never ending barrage of new features and technologies is a challenge.
I see announcements daily about new Web sites like Quora that shout out: “Hey, check me out and use me!”
Each requires some reading and tinkering to learn which tabs to click and what information to input to get what I want, if I want.
It wasn’t always this way. There was a time, before the Internet became a monster, that people would joke about being unable to set the clock on their VCR, except it wasn’t a joke.
To fully function in this electronic world today you need to be a junior Einstein. And that’s just the Internet.
Let’s talk about gadgets. There was a time when the only thing digital on a human body was a wristwatch. Now, today’s smart phones are all-in-one supercomputers. Pretty soon, the rush of software widgets coming daily will start running faster than the National Debt Clock. We have sophisticated digital cameras and camcorders, fancy recorders and 3-D TVs. Each device is so feature rich you could spend a full week learning how to use it.
As to game systems. I won’t even touch a PS3 or Xbox 360 due to the fear I feel about how inferior I am when it comes to using this stuff. They should put warning labels on those things: For Kids Only.
Then we have iPods, which have become permanent extensions of the ear for so many, and the new iPads.
I have a name for iPods, smart phones and iPads. I call them digital pacifiers. They enable us to totally zone out from the human rat race. You want in? Send a text message.
I am not a luddite. I am a tech writer for God’s sake. But maybe that’s my dilemma. In addition to covering business news it’s also my job to keep pace with new Web sites and gadgets to see what blazes and what blows. It can be a bit exhausting at times.
If only I had my Missile Command back. As soon as some whiz-bang tech thingy came my way I could blast it out of the sky. The battle won, I could sit down on my lawn, lay back, watch the clouds pass by, feel the breeze on my cheeks, stretch, breathe deep and rest peacefully knowing that I am master of my universe once again.