The future is now
I am frequently asked whether I personally write and research on my columns. Yes, at almost 81, I personally type and research on them on my desktop computer.
Typing and research. Upon my retirement as chief justice on Dec. 7, 2006, I honed the typing skills I learned when I was still in high school. My fellow seniors may be delighted to know that the touch system on the old manual typewriters is still basically the same and is still in use.
However, the personal computer has a lot more features (font themes and sizes, footnotes, spellcheck, onboard dictionary and thesaurus, cut and paste, multiple colors and highlights, spreadsheet, etc.). And, with the internet, broadband and/or WiFi, the computer magically enables instant research on any subject.
In the past, legal research was a big sidetrack needing the manual opening of the Philippine Reports (abbreviated as “Phil”) or Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA) and requiring the careful manual copying of direct quotes.
Now, one simply types the subject matter on the search engine and several options pop up, including the original manuscripts of decisions from the Supreme Court website. With cut and paste, the accuracy of quoted portions can be assured.
To save on precious space, I cite only the date of the promulgation of decisions, no longer the case number or source document (whether Phil or SCRA or GR No.).
Keeping up. My column writing and exposure to large companies and foundations—as a director, adviser or officer—have forced me to keep up with the digital world. They make my brain (or what is left of it) active, curious and inquisitive. I hope they make it dementia-proof, too!
Notably, my meetings in big companies are facilitated by PowerPoints on individual screens that pop up from the conference tables, aided by a large common screen, or in laptops and tablets via an app called “MeetX.”
To be updated — whether in science, medicine, astronomy, law or current events — I try to learn the many modes of communication. The faster and more accurate the modes become, the faster and more accurate knowledge is learned. Indeed, communication compresses knowledge and conveys it exponentially.
Consider this: The ancients transmitted knowledge by word of mouth and by manually copying manuscripts (like the Bible). After Guttenberg invented the printing press in or about 1440, books, journals and newspapers became the repositories of knowledge.
With the advent of computers in the 1950s and WorldWide Web (www) in the 1990s, information exploded at a much faster pace. Computers and the www outpaced the traditional modes of communication like the telegraph, telephone, radio, newspapers, television and cinema.
Digital world of data. Today, the shift from analog to digital technology ushers in a new world of wonders with free and easy ways to instantly send and receive pictures, voice and data via Skype, Viber, iMessage, Signal or Telegram.
With enough savvy, one can learn to beat traffic via Waze. Or be comfortably chauffeured via Uber or Grab without owning a car or hiring a driver. One can shop online without lining up in busy department stores and one can reserve and pay for airline tickets and hotels using computers.
Seniors like me may not be able to keep up with the fast-paced social media. But I think we should master at least one device—the smartphone. Many of us still operate in the analog world of the old Nokia. That belongs to a bygone era.
The smartphone (like the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy) provides not only free texts and voice facilities but also “killer” add-ons like the “selfie” camera, flashlight, alarm clock, health check, calculator and hand-held computer.
With it, one can form or join exclusive group chats via Viber to exchange pleasantries, jokes, video clips, instant photos from anywhere and to anywhere in the world for free. On it, one can even watch movies (via Netflix and Iflix) and TV shows. And soon, it will serve as a credit card, cash substitute, car key and closed-circuit television (CCTV) to monitor and observe every nook and corner of your home while you’re away.
Fellow seniors, let’s reinvent ourselves. The future is now.
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