My kids are home-schooled. One of the many consequences is that they are sheltered from bureaucracy more than the average kid.
One of my teenagers is involved with a not-quite-local high school, because, well, why should the public school community be denied the joy of sharing in his perceived infallibility? In order for me to volunteer to drive him and some classmates to an event, I needed to fill out a Form. A teenager is not the best communication medium, but it only took a week of back-and-forth to determine that no electronic version existed, and to actually get the Form in to my hands. His last text about it was “I have the forms”. And indeed, when he handed it to me, he said, “You have to fill it out in Quadruplicate!”
The Form, of course, was a carbonless paper form, with a white, orange, pink and yellow sheet. I replied, “It’s okay. It’s like carbon paper. You just fill out the top.” His whiny cry of “But how do you Know?”, was less a doubting of my knowledge than a complaint that there was no “About this form” link at the bottom of the paper. Though I still doubt it, he claimed to never have seen the like (remember that infallibility?). (I also find it amusing that although Zingerman’s has gone digital and gotten rid of the carbonless ordering forms, they still say “Yellow copy” and “Pink copy” on the interim white receipts.)
A bit more questioning and discussion with my colleagues revealed that our kids really believe that there are only 3 generations of a technology: What they and their peers use, what their parents use (now, not in their youth), and the original invention.
Thus text documents are either shared in the cloud, stored locally on a laptop/desktop, or painstakingly hand-duplicated by monastic scribes. Personal music is streamed, parents listen to satellite radio and MP3s that came from old CDs, and people used to listen to rocks and sticks played around the communal cooking fire pit. Vinyl LPs aren’t music at all. As my kids said at a friend’s party a few years ago, “Why do you have those plastic things we make art bowls out of in your closet?” We found a 20+ year old AAA Triptik for a cross-country drive and one of the kids asked how we updated that. Might as well have been runes on dragon skin.
There are lots of other examples, and I’m resisting the urge to write about them. But I’m thinking of all those intermediate technologies that are disappearing like so many 5 1/4″ floppies.
P.S. This post sat as a draft for about a year, and I’m only putting it out because I hear Gene’s voice asking me to put out content. Which I intend to do.