July 2013

After reading that this month’s Profile, Gene Dinsmore of the town of Lysander, still loves using his Rolodex, evidently spurning the more technological methods of keeping track of all his contacts, I felt that it was as if he spoke to a sizable and mostly silent group of folks out here who wonder if technology really makes our lives, personal and professional, easier.

In this month’s story, Gene says he’s “old-fashioned” when he admits to still using a Rolodex. But I wonder if he isn’t so much old-fashioned as he might be practical. Those of us who are old enough to have experienced life without a cell phone, 24/7 access to our bank accounts, the Internet, and just 13 channels on TV, but who are also old enough to be using all the technology that’s available today, have the luxury, perhaps wisdom, to be able to do a formula in our heads — Can the task at hand be done with today’s technology in greater than, less than or equal to the time it once took prior to the age of the pervasive computer?

Results vary, of course. But the case of this Rolodex could blow the lid off this notion that everything digital is faster. Can double-clicking into a database defeat rifling through a paper card-based system for locating contacts? If, while at work, I need to find John Doe’s phone number, what is so time-consuming by choosing “D” in the Rolodex and finding his number? At best it’s a tie if I tell my phone to get the number for me.

Alas, soon there will be fewer and fewer of us who know today’s technology and can recall how things were done before it. Soon no one will know what a Rolodex was and can remember a time when if you needed money on a Sunday, you had better get to the bank by Saturday morning. But today’s technology will someday be like a Rolodex for today’s youth and they, too, should consider using the formula us “old-fashioned” people use now when they get older. And it starts with a question: Can I do it better and faster the new way or the old way? Common sense will always answer that truthfully.

You can also view previous issues of Superintendent's Profile.