Many of those who will read this knew my brothers and me growing up. If you did, and you were one of our friends that owned a console gaming device (in our day, it was Nintendo, N64, Sega, etc). Then you probably remember when our families might get together and parents would find myself and my brothers camped out in front of the console for hours at a time playing Mario (some version or another) or NBA Jam, etc. Why, might you ask? Was it just because we were addicted to console games and had no social skills (we were home schooled after all…?)
No. The answer was, “because we never owned a “console.” My parent’s position on the matter was, “this is only for gaming… we don’t need it.” Interestingly, from my very early memory, I remember us having computers. Which, of course, we played games on. You might ask, “what was the difference?” My mother’s answer: Its not just for gaming, you can do more on it than that.” Which is very true–though maybe we spent a bit more time gaming than she proportionally had in mind. Her point remained valid. This device (console) was intended solely for games, and this device (PC) was also a productivity device.
Yet, today I had a conversation with a new owner of Microsoft’s, just off the factory, XBoxOne console. And as we talked about it, I asked him, “So what games have you gotten?” To which he replied: None. It came with some free ones, but I probably won’t buy any games for it.
At first, I considered that a bit odd… after all, its a console… right? Or… is it? Let’s face it, the days of my mother’s position: “Its just for games” is a non-existent consideration today. The next era of devices that are by form-factor “Consoles” are by function multiprocessing entertainment and communication devices. The potential for the XBoxOne in the realm of video communication is actually quite astounding. Its ability to be controlled by one’s voice through the Kinect device is, at least by first report, actually usable.
My children are growing up in a different world than the one in which I grew up. My oldest son is 3, and he doesn’t know it yet, but he’s about to experience his first major technological change–the iPad I’ve had (and allowed him to play with) since he was 1 is being sold. I wonder how he will react? “Daddy, Can I was George (Curious George) on the Pad?” is a normal question in my house. It will be interesting to see his reaction. And more interesting still to see how he adjusts to a different platform/device–or no device at all.
Maybe this is all simple musings, but I think we’re on the cusp of a fairly significant cultural shift when it comes to device<–>human interactivity. Where will we end up? Will we build a tower up to the heavens, only to find that what we’re looking for was standing beside us all of the time? I think we may… we shall see.
The tower of Babel should be a reminder to us that “human ingenuity” remain limited by one factor: human. The problem with some people’s ideas are that they consider this a contrast of biology vs technology. That, though, is a false dicotamy. The contrast isn’t: Humanity VS What Humanity Can Build with Technology. The true contrast is physical vs spiritual. What humanity can create with technology is not spiritual, it is and will remain purely physical.