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Old-fashioned - but not outdated

The world of technology is changing faster than most of us can fathom. It seems we barely finish uploading, updating or upgrading our computers, cell phones or iPods before the next version hits the market.

The world of technology is changing faster than most of us can fathom. It seems we barely finish uploading, updating or upgrading our computers, cell phones or iPods before the next version hits the market.

Where once Apple IIs, white boards and interactive Smart Boards were thought to be cutting edge technology in the classroom, an elementary school in Maine is now issuing iPads to all incoming kindergartners. Locally, Barnum Elementary is also adding a fleet of iPads to their curriculum to make technology more personal and maneuverable.

Cell phones have transitioned into the Smart Phone generation and allow us not only to conduct a telephone conversation but to surf the Internet, watch full-length feature films, and catch instant replays from the latest Twins baseball game almost as it

happens.

Maps are being replaced by "Google Earth," and books are being replaced by Kindles and Nooks. (Even our vocabulary has evolved at breakneck speed to keep up with the new developments in

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technology!).

Sometimes all of this is enough to make the heads of even hard core "techies" spin.

For the most part, these fast-moving advances represent progress and ongoing enrichment and improvement. But there have been casualties along the way as well. Increasingly, we find ourselves carrying on one-sided "conversations" with the faceless void of the person at the other end of an e-mail trail. Many of us have forgotten much of what we knew of the "Queen's English" because digital editing programs such as Spell Check tell us when we're wrong (and what's right). And as far as penmanship is concerned, well - forget it!

What were once known as the "social graces" often tend to go by the wayside as folks today think nothing of carrying on animated cell phone conversations in the middle of a fine restaurant, or forcing others to listen in as they conduct business on board an airplane or text friends in the middle of a movie or concert.

As with anything else, use and abuse rests on the shoulders of those of us who strive to stay connected in today's world, but it remains important to keep all things in balance....

A case in point - there's a small breakfast counter in Helena, Mont., known as The No Sweat Cafe. There's nothing particularly unusual about the little one-room restaurant (unless, of course, you consider their plate-size blueberry pancakes!). But one thing is remarkable about it - there's a "no cell phones" policy that is strictly enforced to prevent relaxed diners from having to endure the constant intrusion of annoying ringtones and long-winded conversations that lop over into neighboring tables.

And in that little restaurant, something extraordinary happens each morning. As diners settle in with their first cup of coffee, they sit back, relax - and read the newspaper.

Wendy Johnson

Related Topics: TECHNOLOGY
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