Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Children and Tech series - Post # 2

a brief history of tech and noah

Monday, January 17th, 2011

My own experiences with technology began early – when I was little I wanted to be a “scientist”. Not that I actually had a good handle on what a scientist did, but I was informed by cartoons, Star Wars and comic books – where “scientists” used technology to save the world multiple times on a daily basis. I wanted to go into space, meet aliens and fly around with robots.

My dad worked as an aircraft technician for Air Canada for 27 years, and was a carpenter and builder in his spare time. Technology as tools, and as something you work with were present through him throughout my childhood. My mother went back to school and also entered a technological field by the time my sister and I were in middle school. She studied robotics at a local technical college, and became one of Ontario’s first women industrial robotics technicians. They would have conversations at the dinner table that would totally mystify my sister and I.

Computers were a bit different. I was in Grade 5 when the first PCs were introduced to schools – we had two boxy Macintoshes in the school library, that got used for games and “educational purposes” but were mostly ignored. Friends had Atari systems, and we would play with them sometimes. My real introduction to the home computer happened through my grandfather, who gave me his old Commodore 64 when he upgraded to something else, and now I could write things, play arcade games and most awesomely print things out at home. I played a few games for a while, but found that I mostly got overstimulated from them and pretty well stopped playing them.

Even though my parents were technological at work, my sister and I could program the VCR far better than them. We were adolescents and teenagers in the time before cellphones, but we would’ve been ahead of them on that curve as well. It’s funny how the tech generation gap was so present, even in my very technological family.

In middle school, I realized that the more interesting aliens were here on planet earth – namely other people – and became less focused on being a “scientist” and started seeing art as the outlet for my creativity. In high school, I specialized in theatre, and learned a battery of technology specific to that discipline. A lot of what we had in school was dinosaur material (even at that time) and we were well aware that we were learning techniques on machines that were obsolete in the field.

Before I came to Ryerson, I worked as a professional artist for 14 years. Technology was even more important, as a means of documentation through photos, video and audio data; word processing and editing for grant writing, archiving and evaluation; flexible ways to save and present previous work and projects in progress; networking and collaborating with artists in other places – and a gazillion more. Technology just keeps on growing into my life. I bought my first computer (a Mac) and won’t look back.

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