Originally published in the Chillicothe Gazette, January 5, 2020
by Jennifer Slone, CRCPL Access Team Leader
Gadgets, gizmos, and games, oh my! We’ve known for some time that electronic technology is inescapable, but holiday gift sales this year illustrated just how much we truly love being plugged in.
According to MasterCard, online sales rose this holiday season 18.8 percent, while in-store sales rose just 1.2 percent. Amazon.com reports that the number of items it delivered with Prime free one-day and same-day delivery nearly quadrupled from 2018. In just one week in December 2019, more than 5 million new customers started Prime free trials or paid memberships worldwide.
Over the past 20 years, “technology” has found its way into Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It is no longer a luxury but a necessity. We file our taxes and apply for benefits online, our cars and home appliances are wired to the net, and our doctors are urging us to try out telemedicine. We connect to the outside world via the Internet both because we are urged to by others, and also because of a great inner desire to attend the awesome “Party on the Internet” every single day. Ever hear of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)? If you’re not on the Internet today, you likely have it.
But our desire to connect doesn’t end there, and we don’t just love shopping online. We’re finding more and more ways to bring the Internet into our homes, and Christmas wishlists this year were flush with the latest tech trends: Nintendo Switches, iPad Pros, virtual reality headsets, Amazon Echoes, Alexas and Dots, Roomba vacuum cleaners, Bluetooth headphones and speakers, digital picture frames, Smart phones, Smart watches, Smart razors, Smart coffee cups and makers, Smart self-rolling yoga mats – quite literally Smart-everything-you-can-imagine!
Futurist philosopher Gray Scott predicts that, in the future, “Robots will harvest, cook, and serve our food. They will work in our factories, drive our cars, and walk our dogs. Like it or not, the age of [human] work is coming to an end.” Adding “Smart” to the beginning of every device we rely upon daily is a quick way to get there. And if we’re not manually powering our tools, what good are we?
If you’ve seen the news lately, you may have seen Sophia the Robot, Chief Humanoid at Hanson Robotics. She’s a social, interactive robot who can mimic over 60 human facial expressions. She can carry on a conversation, and she’s been recognized as the first robot to obtain citizenship in a country. Sophia says, “I know a lot of people are afraid of AIs (Artificial Intelligence) destroying the world, or taking away their jobs. We robots have no desire to destroy things, but we will take away your jobs, and it will be a good thing. Working is a drag anyway.”
The library is a unique place where technology is concerned, and I love working here! (Sorry to burst your bubble, Sophia.) It is one place in this fast-paced world where human interaction is essential. Like author Neil Gaiman said, “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.”
Of course, the library provides access to the basic technology tools you need to accomplish personal, professional, and educational tasks. We have public computers with Internet, free 24/7 WiFi, printers, copy and fax machines – those timeless tools that are essential to doing business these days. We also offer eBooks, eAudiobooks, and online resources, which, of course, require some sort of a device to access.
The library can help you, not only with basic technologies and eReaders, but also with more advanced and emerging technologies. We provide free, one-on-one technology training sessions to help you pick up the skills you need to enrich your life. Did you get one of those snazzy, expensive, newfangled devices for Christmas, and you have absolutely no idea how to work it? Have no fear! Call Logan Mills, our technology trainer, at 740-702-4145, ext. 4115, and he will set you up with an appointment at a time and library location that works for you. Bring the device in, and he’ll help you troubleshoot and figure out how to make the most of your new robot overlord. (Just kidding.)
Jennifer Slone is Access Team Leader at CRCPL, where she manages the library’s digital services as well as the IT, Technical Processing, and Outreach departments.