Monday, September 6, 2010

It's magic!

I recently served a customer in my store who needed some help for a piece of electronics. He was older, likely in his seventies. (Gosh, I wonder how much longer I will be able to say that and still feel young?) The question had a simple answer; he thanked me and was on his way. A few minutes later a thought that had been running around in my head for quite some time had an answer.

Now, this gentleman was one of those who carried himself well and by the tone of his conversation was reasonably educated. He belonged to an era when most did things themselves because they knew how and knew what they were doing. How is it possible then that such a simple answer to an electronics question remained a mystery?

Then it dawned on me. This generation of men especially but women to some extent knew only a world of tangible machines. By that I mean they could see the inner-workings of things. When you turned on a motor you saw metal gears moving, whining and spinning causing things to happen. The only issue most did not understand was the invisible force of electricity that still mystifies most today. Even with a typewriter, when you hit a key it activated a lever that smashed into a piece of paper thus providing the written word. With the advent of circuitry all the mechanical components began to disappear. As more and more tubes and circuits replaced moving parts specialized repair became the norm. One could no longer go to the local store and buy a part you could easily fix. Home repair to automobiles suffered the same fate. They became much too complex for the average person to maintain.

Such as it is with computers and their brethren. The average consumer hits a key on their computer. No lever is raised, no tangible action takes place in a mechanical sense. Humans evolved being able to rationalize the mechanical world and taking advantage of that action. That is no longer available in many instances.

So how does the printed word get to the paper on your printer? It's magic!

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