Regulars and Shorts, Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: March 2013

By Dennis Hinkamp

Who’s really driving tech innovation.
—by Dennis Hinkamp


I have a little secret to divulge. When I talk about books I’ve recently read, I’m really referring to books I have listened to. I do read magazines and newspapers but mostly online because the lighting is better and it’s easy to enlarge the type face. I have multiple college degrees and the ability to read but it is just more pleasant to be read to by some artful narrator. I can count trees on top of the mountain across the valley but I have to leave my glasses outside my locker so I can read the combination to get back in. I have bifocal sunglasses so I can read the bike computer. I can never remember if this means I’m nearsighted or farsighted but this is why computers, e-readers and audio books were made for people like me rather than the young and the restless.

Do you know why television screens are getting bigger and images are in higher definition? Because middle-aged people like me are having a harder time seeing. We spent our formative years squinting at 12-inch black and white TVs. The first computer screens were so pixilated that the letters looked like they were made from tiny Legos. Sound systems are becoming more sophisticated because we blew out our eardrums listening to all that loud rock and roll on cheap boom boxes we carried around on our shoulders. Blue tooth, noise cancelling head phones, ear buds? That’s all for us.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg may think he invented a really cool new thing, but in reality it is the world’s largest scrapbook and grannies make up one of the largest percentages of new people logging on. So much so there probably should be a new term called gram-spam: the ability of your granny to now send mass mailings to the entire extended family with the click of a mouse. You want grandma’s secret pumpkin pie recipe? Here it is coming at you on a PDF. You thought hanging out at the genealogical library would distract her? Now she can spend days and weeks online tracing your family line back to the first protoplasm. And she can call you a lazy jerk for not sending a video of the new kids’ first steps because she knows you have an iPhone. So there she sits tapping her foot waiting for the inbox to beep.

There probably is some grand-spam too, but it sounds too much like a Denny’s breakfast special.

This brings me to the newest innovation; the Google self-driving car. Who do you think that was made for? No doubt they will first be available in Florida and Arizona. And as an added bonus all you kiddos can safely text and tweet till your fingers bleed while you cruise down the road. Don’t say we never did anything for you.

Dennis Hinkamp says “I heard a great book” just doesn’t sound right.

This article was originally published on March 1, 2013.