The Road Ahead


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We live in an area that has begun to use Green
Bins for household waste. Our regular garbage
is picked up every other week and the only
weekly garbage collection is our green plastic
bins, to be filled with leftover food products
and other organic waste.

When the program first started, I was sure
we could never change our ways, but before
long, depositing bones and leftover food in
the bin became automatic.

Why am I telling you this? Because using the
computer will also become easy for you the
more you try. Sure, the learning curve is
steeper than remembering which container
to use for which type of garbage, but the
idea is the same. Every time you perform a
function or solve a problem on your computer,
it will be easier than the time before.

This week, I read a book written by Bill Gates
in 1996 titled ‘The Road Ahead’.  Gates said,
"Computers frighten almost everyone
(everyone but children), before they learn to
use them. When people spend more time with
computers, they understand them better.
You can start by playing computer games or
doing other simple things. Once you start
using them, I think you'll like them. "

With the Internet, we can keep in touch with
old friends and make new ones; have virtual
experiences of flying an airplane, driving a
car, even dissecting a toad. Pilots and doctors
practice their work without worrying about
accidents. Every school can have a wonderful
library thanks to the Internet.

Gates saw then how much our world would
change because of computers. Banking and
shopping online, distance learning, the ability
to telecommute and work from home - all of
these grew as software became better and
more powerful.

Gates talked about his own futuristic house.
Anyone in the house wore an electronic pin that
told the house who and where you were. When
it got dark, the pin would turn on lights nearby
and turn them off when you went away. Music
would play near you and the phone ring nearby
only if the call was for you. A home control
console activated choices of lighting, music,
and temperature. That was in 1996, so who
knows what his home is like now!

The book ended with a cartoon showing a mutt
using a computer and saying “On the Internet,
nobody know's you're a dog. " How true - on
the Internet, we are all on equal ground.

When in my 40’s, the university library where I worked was computerized. The thought of using those machines at my age was so intimidating that I moved to another department. I transferred back a year later, determined to learn.

To my surprise, computers were easier to use than I imagined, and so enjoyable that I went back to school full-time.

(c) Carol Bremner 2003
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