I admit I haveÂ UtopianÂ views where technology is concerned. I LOVE the classic Star Trek view of the universe â€” a place where all are equal and everybody has a replicator.
Technology brings the people of its Federation together, unifying and equalizing all members. Likewise in today’s real world, it doesn’t care about your age, what you look like, or your ethnic, cultural or religious background. All that’s required is that you have access to it, and be able to use it. Those two criteria can be daunting in this century, though. What if you can’t afford it? Even if you can, what if you don’t know how or are too intimidated to use it?
That’s one of the reasons I loved the iPhone when I first held it. Small, slick, portable, and REALLY easy to use. And now, it’s relatively affordable. I especially love the fact that my 4-year-old son and his 72-year-old grandfather sit next to each other, playing games and surfing the net with it.
And now, there’s going to be a new one to welcome into the family. I excitedly re-watched the keynote on Tuesday, to make sure I didn’t miss anything and to plan out my attack for when my iPhone 4 comes home. Partly into it, I noticed that my 8-year-old daughter, Hazel, was sitting in a chair in the room, silently absorbed by Steve Job’s infectious intensity. It was her bedtime, but I decided to let her slide for a bit, since she seemed so rapt.
When my father-in-law and I were talking in the driveway the next day, the iPhone 4 came up (as these things tend to do in our tech-friendly household). I began to excitedly recount some of the amazing features on tap.
“So you know, the new iPhone’s coming out, ” I started, “and the price isn’t too bad. It’s just…”
“199,” interrupts Hazel. (Where did she come from? I thought she was still on her bike, speeding up and down the driveway. That kid travels at warp speed.)
“Only one of them. Do youÂ rememberÂ the price of the other one?” I realized I was quizzing her on the keynote. I was wondering how much she had picked up.
“299,” she chirped, pleased with herself.
“Do you know the difference between them?”
“One’s bigger. I mean, it lets you put a lot of stuff on it. The other won’t let you put so much.” That’s my girl. She certainly grasped the basic concept. I jumped in to fill in a couple of details for my father-in-law.
“Yeah, that’s right. The $199 model has 16 GB of storage and the the $299 has 32GB of storage,” I added. “It’s also got a new, faster processor. The tech seems pretty sweet. I’m also intrigued by the internal gyroscope…” Hazel’s grandfather was listening politely, but I was clearly losing my audience. That’s when my daughter took over, excited to share what she had learned.
“Grandpa, it has this thing called FaceTime, and it lets you see who you talk to if they have the same phone!”
“Really?” Now he looked interested again. “How does that work?”
I was about to jump in with more details, but got cut off by an excited little voice. “There’s a little camera on the front! AND there is a camera on the back, so they can see what you see, too!”
I had to stifle my impulse to butt in with specs that I realized neither of them were interested in. It became clear that it would’ve only gotten in the way of this wonderful interaction. Hazel and her grandpa talked about the new iPhone for half an hour! She shared what she had learned in her words, and Grandpa, intrigued, asked lots of questions.
“So you gonna get one, Grandpa?”
“I don’t know. Will you teach me how to use it?”
“Sure. Can I use it, too?”
A device â€” that was in neither of their hands yet â€” had already created a bonding opportunity. Even if I wasn’t already sold on the iPhone 4 (which I was), this little scene would’ve made it a must-have.
Now if they could just come out with that Star Trek replicator.