Sunday, October 18, 2009

On Losing a Pair of Eyeglasses

Lost my eyeglasses this weekend.

Been wearing glasses for extreme astigmatism since I was eight years old. I've got near zero depth perception without 'em; so driving a car, operating heavy machinery, throwing darts in public places are all right out.

So losing my glasses has been a mildly traumatic experience.

But it did get me thinking about the things we depend on.

Back in the Middle Ages, I wouldn't have had much chance of scoring a pair of Ray-Bans. In fact, for the 13th century, near-sightedness is pretty 'period'.

But had some time-traveling ophthalmologist stumbled upon me with a pair of spectacles, I pretty soon would have become addicted to 20/20 vision. And I'd be better off for it.

And so it goes for the technologies of the Digital Age. I can get by without email and Twitter just like I can get by without my glasses. But you won't find me getting near the (information)highway. Which means you won't find me getting far from my immediate safety zone.

Our new crowdsourcable communications tools help put the global network into better focus. And they quickly prove to improve one's life in little ways (which then can add up in big ways).

Eyeglasses and digital tools are similar in another important way: they don't do the job for you. Rather, they help make the world more clear and coherent so that you can start to figure it out for yourself. They are tools for helping you to see things more clearly; after that, you are on your own.

And so I'm sitting here this evening working on an old computer and wearing an old pair of glasses with an outdated prescription. Until the time-travelers show up, it's the best I got (and all things considered, what I got is quite a lot).


  1. Great article; love the analogy...but hope your specs show up!

  2. Very nice metaphor for how we use technology and what it helps us do - I'll save this one for a workshop!


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