When I was 16 years old, I remember that my world was hanging out with my best buddy, Jim, and we would play Atari games on occasion and draw huge pixelated stick figures on his TV. His older brother, Tom, had a ham radio in the basement and occasionally, we would hear Tom CQ'ing for other parts of the world with rare success.
Fast forward to today, 25 years later. My son, Nick, is 16. He and I frequently play HALO together on XBox Live. Recently, one of the people in his group, Psychopath, went to my web site and then sent me some of his computer art. Psychopath is actually Paul, who also is 16. And he's Australian.
He did this with a program called Bryce 5. As you can see, it allows him to create complex renderings. Look at this close-up:
See the reflection on the water?
It is utterly remarkable that my children regularly interact with people from all over the world through XBox Live. Paul, a high schooler in Australia, is doing things far beyond my grasp when I was his age. It gets my head to spinning when I think of the achievements they will make in this accelerated curve of technology and connectedness.
As I watch both Aaron and Nick do this, I've noticed something. They've found their groups (Aaron's are more British and Irish, and Nick's are American and Australian) and with more frequency they'll just talk in these groups, and not just play. XBox Live allows for voice-over-IP (VOIP) and it's often as clear as the telephone.
The acceleration of change in our world today escapes most of us. 25 years is not that long a time span. While Atari was not available for my mother's generation, ham radios were, and the technology was pretty much the same from her generation to mine. But the changes are lightning fast now. I can't imagine what my son will enjoy as he enters his 40's, 25 years from now. It's bewildering to try and guess what his 16-year-old will be able to do.
What a great time to be alive, this is!