I really enjoy this brief appearance “Everything’s Amazing & Nobody’s Happy” by comedian Louis CK on the Conan O’Brien show from 2008:
The piece is not without flaws, as I don’t believe the fault lies with a spoiled generation.
For me, it does a perfect job of skewering our lack of wonder and joy – our complacency – at the truly amazing things we experience every single day in our modern lives.
I think we have a lot of the this in the tech world. It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come in such a short period of time and how amazing that is. It’s easy to lose the joy in long term progress amid current frustrations, which always seem more significant because they’re in the present tense.
I thought it might be fun to explore some examples. I realize the relevance of these examples will vary with the age of the reader. At the time I’m writing this, I’m 44 years old – double death in Cantonese. This colors my experience, as readers who are significantly younger started their tech lives with newer and better stuff. Readers who are older will shake their heads at how I belong to a spoiled generation and ought not complain. And so it goes.
For my first example where everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy, let’s take networking. Just this week, I read an article about Comcast offering gigabit Internet in four cities. My first thought was disappointment that I can only get 100 megabits in my neighborhood. My second thought was: only?!? It’s absolutely amazing that I do have 100 megabit Internet. I realize that there are many in the US and elsewhere who still run on slow DSL and have less to be grateful for than I.
When I first got started with computers, I was fortunate enough to skip the acoustic coupler and start directly with a 300 baud Volksmodem. This had three distinct disadvantages versus today’s broadband connections:
- It was 349,525 times slower than my current connection
- Modem connect sounds
- Mom could pick up the phone and blow away my download at any moment
Sure, I still pine for a gigabit connection, and when I get that I’ll pine for even more. But at least now, Mom can share my internet connection without wrecking my downloads.