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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Meet George Jetson

Baby Boomers like myself probably remember The Jetsons better than anybody else. It was a cartoon set way into the future and depicted a society where humanity didn't have to work much anymore and when they did, they simply had to push buttons and computers did all the work. The only problem with that vision is that the reality is much different. Now we have computers that can "push the button," so to speak, without the need for human involvement. A good point to illustrate this is this:
I was "promoted" to being an administrator over on the great Wikipedia project, in one of the little side-wikis known as the Hot Wheels Wiki. The first task I was told to always be sure and do was to greet new users when they first appeared. It was imperative that this be done, so as to make sure users would stick around to do more work, editing the wiki and uploading new pictures. Well, I agreed to take on this charge and loved the responsibility of doing this important task. It was nice to be able to greet each new user personally, and with helpful suggestions that would get them up and running on something that can be complicated. If I had only had some of the hints that I'm aware of now when I joined, there could have been a lot less trouble.
But now, the great staff of Wikipedia has been upgrading everything and adding new features. One of them is, you guessed it, automatic software that greets every new user within 1 minute - 60 seconds - of when they first join. Now, this might be a good thing, but I enjoyed doing that task myself and making each greeting a personal thing, from a real person and not a "'bot." What is a person to do when progress keeps making people obsolete? I'm practically not needed anymore over on the wiki, thanks to all the new features.
What was the purpose of humanity again? Are you now or have you ever been?

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