Monday, June 6, 2016

Progress and Me

by Carol

Me - in England in 1979

I recently attended a professional product-launch in Orlando that introduced a huge change in hearing aid technology. In the spirit of the subject, and probably because of the engineers attending from all over the world, the guest speakers were all about technology and the future. 

I won't assume you have interest in my field, so I will skip a specific description of the product introduced, but suffice it to say that one of the engineers who presented wakes up in to morning and puts on his hearing aids. When he closes the battery drawer, his kitchen lights go on and his coffee pot starts! How in the world, we ancient ones ask?

Apparently there is a global network out there, encompassing many, many corporations and products, and products-in-the-making just waiting to be designed and connected. Each individual company (like the coffee pot maker, or the hearing aid corporation) reaps the benefit of the entire network by just signing on. No longer does each company have to invent their own everything - they just design a product to connect to the bigger grid. The speakers in Orlando likened this, right now, to being on the verge of the Industrial Revolution. Everything we do will soon be different. And many problems we think are not solvable will be solved within our children's if not within our lifetimes.

At the same time, I am reading Susan Branch's books. I had picked up "Martha's Vineyard: Isle of Dreams" because I love the Vineyard, and what I found was a beautiful, hand painted, quote-loaded and hand-lettered biography of a country artist and cook who ran away to the Vineyard after a bad divorce and stayed for a lifetime, thriving there in every way. I immediately found her follow-up books and am now traversing English villages with her in "A Fine Romance - Falling in Love with the english Countryside." Susan is, as I am , a throw-back - touring, with appreciation, century old villages, the homes of Beatrix Potter, William Morris and Virginia Woolf, while sketching rose bushes that have been growing for hundreds of years, and bedspreads hand-embroidered  with french knots. She walks every afternoon on paths walked since the days of King Henry, and is fully engaged in taking tea. (oh Dotti - the tea quotes and tea party ideas alone would make this one of your favorites!)

She learns with us that William Morris started the Arts and Crafts movement in opposition to the Industrial Revolution. He and other artists rejected mass-production "encouraging conservation of the old ways, skills and artistry." He states that "in the middle ages EVERY craftsman was an artist," making each piece individual. Susan thanks the english for modernizing without destroying all the artistry in the homes and gardens, narrow roads and rock walls.

So what are we all to do with all this progress? Embrace it, of course! I am mourning the past but my favorite machines are my camera and my computer and I wouldn't even know you all without them! I wouldn't mind a car that parallel parks itself, or a hearing aid that warms my car on a snowy morning. But please let's not lose our continued respect and appreciation for artistry, individuality and craftsmanship, while finding new ways to express our human souls. Progress has its place, but so do preservation and creativity. Are you with me?

   There may have been a time when preservation was about saving an old building here or there, but those days are gone. Preservation is in the business of saving communities and the values they embody.
                                                                                        Richard Moe
                                                                   National Trust for Historic Preservation


AFishGirl said...

As a big fan of my digital hearing aids, I am so interested to see what the future will bring. Sounds like a fascinating conference. Aside from the hearing aids, I'm all about my manual typewriter, knitting, sewing, the s l o w movement. I can barely operate my phone, am far behind on many current technologies. But yes, let there be room for both, the old and the new. I was never more grateful for technological advances than when I got my hearing aids and realized how incredible the technology was.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reference to Susan Branch. I'm not familiar with her, but the books you mentioned sound right up my alley. (Or should I say, right up my country lane?)

terriporter said...

Beautiful photos and such a great subject -- I'm all for embracing new technology, and am actually quite a "techie" for my generation, but I love visiting old places and reading historical novels. I love what Susan Branch said about modernizing without destroying. I think Europe is much better at this than we are here in this country. Thanks for the fun and thought-provoking post!

Claudia Wrightson said...

Ohhh how I agree with you!! I love Susan Branch's books -- she speaks to my soul! and I am with you... when my camera gear was stolen I have been in mourning like I never thought I could for a "thing" ... I have always heard we shouldn't love THINGS -- but the joys it brought me, were not fully appreciated I guess until I lost it. I apparently had better insurance than I thought. They will replace my camera and 2 of the 4 lens! I was so surprised how I sat in my car after the phone conversation with the insurance guy and sobbed like a baby I was so happy!

So, like you I love technology (like my silly iphone) and movies at home and of course my camera -- but I day dream about sitting atop a hillside in England where Beatrix Potters National Preserve, sketching away. Ahhh only in my dreams :)

Hugs my friend.

kelly said...

some really good things to think about this morning carol. I do still so love the art and craft and handmade things...would love if they could co-exist a little easier. :)

Dotti said...

Oddly enough, I had an appointment with my audiologist this morning so I asked her about the new hearing aid technology and I'm seriously thinking about upgrading come 2017. It's so exciting! But, yes, I have to agree with what others have said here: I do love my "gadgets", camera equipment included. Were it not for technology, I would not be able to hear as well as I can.

As a history buff, however, I must tell you, Well, buildings and places more so than "things". When we were in Europe last summer, I was spellbound by all the really old buildings, not at all like what is considered "old" in the States. Architecture and structures that were created long before the "United States" was a gleam in Ben Franklin's eye.

Carol said...

Lets face it girls - I think we are all "cut from the same cloth!!

Anonymous said...

When I think about how far we've come since the Apple 2e lol! Technology is certainly moving faster than most of us, however, I would be lost without the ease of it all! But then again, there is nothing more rewarding than going back in time, reminiscing of the past, with everything made and crafted by hand and loved for centuries!

Cathy H. said...

I love hand-crafted and vintage. Sometimes they fill me with nostalgia, a longing for quieter times and time spent with family; a time when there was no TV or computers or phones for that matter. The only reason I am on the computer, is because I love to hear from my online friends and I love to share my wanderings. I know I need to be more accepting of technology and modern advances, but as my husband and I both say, "it's just something else that's going to break!" Are we negative about modern advances or what??

kybarb said...

With every post here at FOL I am gratified to find that I have "found my tribe! As Carol says we never would have found each other without technology! I do enjoy all the new technology but at the same time I so appreciate the old, the vintage, and the historic. I LOVED Susan Branch's book on the English countryside--if I ever make it to England I will use it for my guidebook. I have her latest book The Fairy Tale Girl in the stack of books to be read next to my chair here.

Carol said...

I just finished that one - and I just might start the whole trilogy over again. So loving the quotes she has found!

Focusing on Life said...

Oh Carol, I loved this post. I am always excited about new technology with better, easier, and use (in my case, it just takes a little longer to fully grasp the new concepts), and ofcourse I do so love the historic places. I think the US should be more like our European cousins, who restore instead of tear-down and rebuild. And I have always loved Susan Branch. I still have some of her delightful stickers that I used during my scrapebooking days. Deanna

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