Answer Man

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When my grandmother was born, airplanes were more than a decade in the future. In my lifetime, space exploration and exploitation became a reality. In the 20th century, automobiles took over. Electricity and telephones became ubiquitous, and television was invented. It would be impossible to name a century of greater change. Yet, I think more apparent change has occurred in the past two decades. By apparent change, I mean changes in daily life and routine. Think how dated movies made only a few years ago can seem. You’ll see people running around frantically searching for pay phones. You’ll see black computer screens with green type. You’ll hear people asking, “Where are we?!” The fabric of daily life now has an entirely different feel. Take, for example, the above cartoon from 20 years ago. Of course, many people—if they still have land lines—still have answering machines, but they’re not the icon of connectivity they once were. And kids in the household certainly do not consider them a lifeline! Technological change has been a juggernaut for the past 200 years, but the small details have never been more apparent than in the current century.