As you can probably tell by now, I love thinking about how we live in the future and never take the time to appreciate it.
Last Wednesday, I was in my hometown of Washington, DC and took a day to do something absolutely awesome – I walked the C & O Canal from Georgetown to Glen Echo. No phone, no one else. Just me alone for about 8 miles, admiring the glorious history and impact of this Washington, DC treasure.
The chief technology was the Lock Mechanisms which allowed the Barges to raise and lower. These locks were manned by family’s who lived in little houses on the canal and would have to operate those locks at all hours of the day, seven days a week. (Cool thing – they’ve actually been refurbished by the C&O Canal Trust’s Canal Quarters Program and you can stay overnight in these wonderful little houses).
So, my point – in the 1870s, they installed a telephone system along the canal so that the Lock Operators could have better communication. The railroads at the time used telegraphs so this telephone system from Alexander Graham Bell was brand new totally futuristic technology. You can imagine how incredible this was for the operators. Better communication. Better warnings. These people along the 184 Mile canal could actually talk as though they were standing next to each other. I’m sure they were thrilled to be able to use such cool technology to make life better.
Yesterday, I was back in NYC, walking down the street, behind a young woman, no older than 20. She was Facetiming with her friend as she walked down the street. Speaking face to face, from possibly two, possibly thousands of miles a way, while walking along a sidewalk. I don’t know exactly what they were talking about, but it was a tone of annoyance. They were commiserating over something someone else had said. (Sorry honey, if you are going to have conversations in public, people are going to hear it.)
Anyways, instead of marveling at the very fact that they could do this, they were using it to complain. Instead of using it to create better efficiency for barge travel, they were just using the technology to rag on someone else. Just made me laugh.
Welcome to the future. Now go appreciate it.
If the Canal Quarters sounds cool to you, visit the website for the Canal Trust, the official nonprofit partner of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Par