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Relative acceptance

The lake, the loons, the technology


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What does this have to do with technology? Not a lot—but I'm trying to transition from vacation to the real world and this column is due. There are some tie-ins, and I'll try to make the most of them.

The past two weeks we’ve been hosting several shifts of family visitors. The final count was 16, and at one time there were 12 people crowded in here. It’s been several years since everyone has descended on us in these numbers and for such a long duration.

From past experience, I’ve learned that our nieces and nephews appreciate having Internet access—preferably at high-data rates. Although we live in a fairly remote area in the middle of New Hampshire—on an island (with a bridge) on a large lake, we do have great Internet access via our cable company. I made a couple of spare laptops with WIFI available in the kitchen and family room.

 
Roman Lubynsky is a technology consultant based in Boston. A frequent speaker and writer on technology topics, he has an MS in Management of Technology from MIT.

Roman can be reached at roman@lubynsky.com

First, I was struck with how comfortable everyone was with technology, regardless of age. I expected the kids would find the PCs useful, but I was surprised at how often the adults, including the oldsters, went online. Admittedly, their use was more oriented toward practical matters like perusing the menus at local restaurants and checking the weather forecast.

Next I realized the young adults can’t remember a time the Internet didn’t exist. They are plugged in and technology is a basic part of their lives. I expected that they would be checking e-mail, sending instant messages (IMs), watching YouTube videos and logging into their Facebook accounts. But it also became clear how the net is a major social connection to their friends and that they liked to share things in close to real time; I saw nieces and nephews uploading photos taken that day to various photo sites for their friends to see.

We purchased fishing licenses and printed them online. We used Google to settle an argument over an obscure word someone played during a Scrabble tournament and also to determine the winner of a bet on whether some old TV actor was dead. We searched the cable listings for old movies to watch on a rainy afternoon. People flying logged in exactly 24 hours ahead of departure to make sure they got their “A” boarding pass.

But the technology was not intrusive. Life was still quiet and slow. We watched the sunset from the screen porch, listened to the loons make their eerie racket, and waited for the lightning bugs to start their flickering. We got sunburned, bitten by mosquitoes, and stuffed on burgers, hotdogs and ribs. We watched the sunset from the screen porch, listened to the loons make their eerie racket, and waited for the lightning bugs to start their flickering. During all this technology pretty much didn’t matter.

My conclusion is that average folks are pretty comfortable with technology and they’ve figured out how to use it in a way that works for them. I overheard one niece say we “were on the acceptable relatives list.” Not a bad place to be.

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