So it’s very hard to estimate, objectively, how much the world is actually changing. Except in the oddest of times, after all, the perceiver is changing at least as much as the world. Stairs get steeper, burdens heavier, music louder, children younger and their jargon less comprehensible (ikr?), the people who run the world more obviously incompetent, because of the shift of viewpoint, regardless of any other sort of change.
You can’t go down to the same river twice, that is to say, even if the river is the same.
Having said all that, though, the world sure has changed! :)
I went to The Mall today, to get my both pairs of glasses repaired (the world’s gotten blurrier, too, as it happens). My reading glasses have been held together with a little twist of wire for months, and yesterday I figured out that my driving glasses have been bothering my nose because although the lefthand nose-piece was still there, it was subtly torn enough that the metal bit was sticking through whenever I actually put them on.
There being no convenient way to get them repaired at home (or maybe just by force of habit, really; come to think of it I didn’t even look online for home glasses-repair kits), I went to The Mall. The Sterling Optical was having, or was involved in, some peculiar event involving a local radio station, balloons, a popcorn machine, and other arcana, but someone asked if they could help me, and when I said I needed some repairs they summoned The Guy Who Does The Repairs from the back room, and he came out and took my glasses and said it would be just a couple of minutes.
So I stood there reading news and books on my ‘Pad until he (or actually someone else, which was slightly confusing) returned with my glasses all fixed up, and then I was all done.
I strolled around The Mall a little, got a coffee, wandered through the Video Game Store, didn’t go into the book store (or even, come to think of it, notice if there is still a book store there), went upstairs and got some lunch from Asian Chao, thought I noticed a “Rounders” to open soon where the Burger King used to be, but then decided that it was actually a “Rounders” that had opened and closed again where the Burger King used to be, since the last time I was there.
There were Akoo screens on some of the columns in the Food Court, and cardboard ads for the Akoo app (which in some sense lets you control what Currently Popular Videos appear on the Akoo screens) sitting on the tables. I looked briefly at the Akoo app on my ‘Pad, but it looked kind of dumb so I didn’t get it. After I ate I bought some (really rather awful) chocolate from the all-candy-same-price candy stand, and wandered through F.Y.E. and didn’t buy anything there either.
The Mall is really a pretty impoverished environment in which to buy things. The F.Y.E. has some little devices that you can run the barcode of a CD under and possibly listen to the tracks and read about the artists on a little display; last time I was there a few of them mostly worked. This time I didn’t even bother trying; I was going to be home pretty soon anyway after all. The book store that I didn’t even go into has some random selection of books that someone (I would guess the Home Office of the bookstore chain) has decided to stock, but there’s no metadata, no reader reviews, no easy way to find other books by the same author or “readers who looked at this also looked at” lists.
Part of me says that it’s nice to be able to browse through the physical objects and decide what to buy one-to-one with the thing like that. But how much sense does that actually make? It means that I’m deciding whether to buy based on how compelling the cover design and the blurbs are, and the things I’m deciding between are limited to whatever someone (else) has decided to stock. How are those advantages?
So one thing that The Mall has is Sterling Optical where they will fix your glasses (and for free!). It also has a somewhat wider variety of coffees and ice-creams than home does, and Asian Chao and Desert Moon and fast-food chains like that. But that doesn’t seem like enough to support a whole Mall really, does it?
And then it has the persons. Quite many persons, each one interesting and lovely in a different way, with eyes and limbs and clothing of different colors and designs, and hair in various styles and lengths. Persons with voices and stories, and laughs and quiet whispers and sidelong looks.
I do like persons. :) And you don’t get to admire them when you buy books on Amazon or music on iTunes or furnace filters on Furnace Filters 4 You Now Dot Com.
But you do when, for instance, you go out to hear live music in Peekskill. (And to an interesting extent that we won’t consider further here right now you also do when you go out to hear live music while staying home.)
So the Internet gets us lots of great metadata from other persons while we shop, but keeps us from encountering the actual persons themselves, and their voices and hair and limbs.
Does this deprive us of the company of other persons, or does it just mean that we have more time to encounter other persons in non-consumer contexts? Both, of course. :) But which more, and which when, and which to whom? Them are the questions (some of them)…