Sunday, January 25

Spending Some Time at the Information Superhighway Rest Stop

My 4 year old recently received a digital camera for her birthday. It's a cheap one-step-above-disposable camera that takes crappy photos and even crappier videos. But for a preschooler it's pretty cool.

Yesterday I caught her on the couch with it making a bunch of electronic noise:

"Whatcha doing over there?"
"Playing games."
"Games?"
" My camera has games on it. Wanna watch?"
"Honey, I really don't think you should be playing games on your camera."
"OK. Can I play one on your phone?"

Touche already. Damn kids. Which forced the realization of a couple facts:

1) I had experienced my first digital generation gap moment

2) If it has a screen and a button, someone will figure out how to stick a game in it

3) It has been awhile since I played Bejeweled

My gut-reaction really was that a video game has no business being installed on a digital camera. Ironic considering my iPhone is bursting at the memory seams with games, apps, music, videos, and mobile photos. A phone that takes pictures? No problem. A camera that does anything besides take pictures? Heresy!

Technical convergence in consumer electronics is a funny thing. Back in the late 90's everyone was shoving the Internet into appliances. Surf the WWW on your fridge! Check email on your TV! Put a web browser in any room! None of these succeeded initially. Could you come up with a better doomed failure than a cobranded Gateway/AOL Internet touchpad? However, over the last 5 years multipurpose devices have slowly become the norm.

For me digital cameras are a one trick pony. I'm sure my parents felt the same way about their fridge. Soon my kids will bring home something else for me to scoff at, providing a soap box on which to stand and proclaim how it used to be: "We never had the Internet in our shoes!" (Oh, wait, yes we did.)

Every generation is destined to have their kids pass them by. The Dotcom Age occurred so fast that it chopped generations in half = those who had no clue and those who did. I came in right at the breaking point, providing a perspective that understands why the kids love mobile texting while watching TV on their computer -- and why their grandparents don't.

I've been waiting for a sign that the Internet Generation is finally jumping past my feeble brain. Now that I have a taste, I can't wait to see what comes next.

1 comment:

Graham Cousens said...

I spent some time with my 11-year-old sister around the holidays.

She has a digital camera she carries around, and whenever someone let's her jump on their computer for a few minutes, she goes straight for YouTube.

When she finds a vid she likes, she holds up her digital camera and takes a movie of it playing on the computer screen. She's got quite a collection on her camera that she shares with her girlfriends.

Thus, my first generation-gap moment.