Digital Intuition

It will soon be 48 years since I first played with a computer. Back then RAM and Hard Drive space cost about $1.00 per byte. About two and half gallons of gas per byte. There was not a gigabyte of RAM in the entire world. In the last 35 years, I have owned more than 20 personal computers. The first of them had 1K of RAM and could do useful work. You would think that I should be digital by now, but it is unnnatural for me.

My grand-daughter made that quite clear to me recently. Last summer, she, her mother, her aunt, my wife and a friend were talking on our deck when a wasp appeared. Someone said there were a lot of wasps this year. The conversation moved to what are wasps for and why are there more this year, what makes them want to hurt you, does anything eat them, and so on.

Kathryn did not join in the conversation. About 60 seconds later though, she knew the answers to most of the questions. Her iPhone had answered them. It never occurred to her to talk about, (negotiate?) facts. They are too easy to get from the internet.

There is a great advantage to be intuitive about information and how it is connected and changing. Young people know that you don’t need to know anything if you know how to find what you need when you want it. Our young people will never know it is hard to acquire the skill. They have known nothing else. We should encourage the skill even though we ourselves may never be able to acquire it. It is supremely valuable.

I must confess that I could easily have gotten caught up in the talk method. While I know facts are readily available, I still make a conscious choice to use my “exo-brain” to find them.

On the plus side of my development, I was trimming our hedge with my grandson as a helper and inadvertently cut off a piece I should not have cut. My first thought was “Undo.” I thought that was hilarious. He didn’t see why.

I doubt I will ever be digital. Maybe because I think a chat room is a coffee shop or a bar.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. don.s@protectorsgroup.com

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