Women & Technology Again

$ 0 Talk radio

It’s no longer the Golden Age of radio in America and finally girls will have more than a cracked fairy tale to be her moral guide.

All around her are images of womanhood, independent and clear.   Live-streaming, in movies and in newspapers, women are being positively depicted, and a young girl sees herself, without feeling uncomfortable in her skin.  Successful women like Hillary Clinton, Mae C. Jemison, Sara Blakely and Oprah Winfrey smile from the covers of glossy magazines.

The narrative has changed, she can do both- be a mother and have a career.  There’s no sky and no limit to her dreams; from pink sneakers to blue high heels, she can perform!   Hopefully she’ll think outside the gender box, because there’s no social corset and hairpins to keep her tied down, unless she wants to wear them.   Now, metaphorically and literally, she can breathe.

Technology has made life better for all, by freeing her from domestic drudgery to a life of luxury– washing machines and egg beaters gave the gift of time, to read books and to learn.  Because we always knew she could code, given the opportunity to learn code.

The apron has been spun around and the letter “S” reveals two things, one it always was a cape and two, it’s washable.   She has choices!  And while there’s much to get excited about, there’s still a wall to overcome.  Gender orientation is such a huge part of society’s psyche, that it’s not easily cast aside.  And maybe that’s why it continues to be practiced in maternity wards across the country, where the gender color-code begins, when our babies are separated by little blue bands for boys and a little pink bands for girls.   Shouldn’t we start out with the same, equally?

Instead, adults complete the gender code cycle, by unwittingly buying into the color system, toys that should be tools of development create subtle pigeon-holes.  We as a society still respond when we see a little boy playing with Barbie dolls, because we ourselves have been raised to adhere to the gender color code.   And so the stage is set and the cycle continues, gender orientation is passed awkwardly along from one generation to the next.

But things are changing, I did see a little boy playing with a pink truck.  And on Dacia Street a little girl was busy fixing the wheel of her baby carriage, her hands were dirty with axle grease.  I smiled, this is the stuff of her fairy tales.

And hopefully, babies will eventually all be allowed to grow up according to what’s in their heads, and not by what’s inside their diapers.

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Filed under Coding, Gender, Gender Equality, Girls

Technology Requires Creativity

#innovation Invention

Ever wonder if people gathered around cave paintings of elk, and appreciated the lightness of the artist’s brushstroke?

Um, no.  Me either, most likely, people stared at the painting and devised a thought, how to get the elk.  Survival in those times of darkness, fueled by fear and hunger, required creative imagination, a thought.   What to use and how to make a tool, the precursor of our modern technology.

From sharpened flint stones to steel to the Digital Age; the spark of an idea fed our ancestors, sheltered them and eventually helped us to defy the laws of gravity.

The really great technology creates an entire ecosystem, like bees pollinate flowers.  One thing leads to another, to another…  from transportation to education to healthcare.  And just as the flower needs that honey bee, inventive technology needs creativity.

Without creativity there would be no inventions, and without innovation our inventions would become stale and cracked.   Like rubber, first used for automobile tires, until innovation came along and used it for a sneaker.  That got us up and running; jogging for a healthy heart, which led to better health awareness, which led to a fitness economy that continues to boom.  Why else are we wearing Fitbits?

There are a lot of people in this world who are extremely good at inventing things, call them scientists. But that doesn’t make them good at identifying alternative uses for their inventions. People who are good at designing mechanical things, call them engineers aren’t necessarily good at marketing their designs.   But a graphic artist helps and just like that, so on and so forth, one person to another to another, and social media helps.

Sometimes we’ll see a line of people standing in a museum, staring at a painting.  I wonder if they see technology?

Art calls on our imagination, we become transfixed.  Studying the way light dances across the canvas, a thin line made from a sable hair paint brush.   Still art, the artist’s own tools in shadow, her palette held at an angle… A heavy dotted pink chrysanthemum and her perspective of a bumblebee’s wings moving, barely there…

I wonder…  without art where would we be?

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Filed under Creativity, Fitbit, Healthcare, technology

Wintry Tech Warrior

# Snow plow

Storm’s coming.    Which makes me think, it’s rather disheartening that in all of our meandering and staring out at the snow storms, why hasn’t anyone realized the vast potential in a snow crop?  Not to play in, but as water, tomorrow’s cash cow?   Surely, with all of our tech wizardry, there’s a snow innovation that encompasses sustainable, potable water?

I’m only asking, because winter in New England means paying attention to weather reports like other people watch the stock market.

It means being prepared at a moment’s notice to heed a weather alert, and most importantly to respect Mother Nature.  Because with all the discussions of global warming and green house effects, winter in New England still carries one helluva wallop!

If it doesn’t happen this week, then it happens the next, or the next.  The threat lingers into early Spring, and even then, there’s always the memory of such a snowstorm.  The kind of snowstorm that lasts for days and days, that cripples a city, closes her highways and shuts down its airports.  Travel isn’t simply dangerous, it’s damn near impossible.  From zero visibility and impassable roads, high winds and treacherous conditions, only a few special people venture outdoors to make a difference, we call them “Snow Warriors”.

Snow Warriors are folks who brave the elements of a winter storm, who work late into the night, overnight and into the wee hours of the morning, running on little sleep and the fumes of a hot coffee thermos; it’s their sheer determination of will that moves the proverbial mountain, also known as white gold, snow.

The Snow Warriors aren’t like the general populace, that is they don’t fear the snow, they love it!   But not the love of a child at play making snow angels and snowmen.  Their love is of having been put to the task, the purpose and desire to do their job and to do it well.  To make the roads safe for the rest of us, we passengers who travel and depend on the transportation of goods.  Hopefully it’s all over quickly, but snowflakes that fall listlessly sometimes seem endless.

To the person seated behind the steering wheel, it’s war.  Their snowplow mounted truck, excavator or a loader is the weapon that pushes and shoves, breaks down and must be repaired in unfathomable conditions of cold wet steel and bolts that must be sheered off.  All while the snow continues to pile in.

From the warmth of our homes we watch, sip hot cups of tea and complain.  As the snow continues to falls and we wonder how we’ll ever get to work and kids smile, hopeful for a Snow Day.  The snow warriors keep on pushing and shoving and piling the snow, be it light and fluffy or wet and heavy, pushing.  It never melts quick enough, and decisions of how to treat the road beneath their wheels, full salt on the asphalt surface or a mix of yesterday’s sand.  It depends on what Mother Nature plans to release next, those freezing temperatures that often follow snow.

The Snow Warrior mostly goes unnoticed, yet their job is crucial to keeping the highways opened, the streets clear and the roadways safe for emergency vehicles, because heart attacks do happen and life sustaining ambulances and paths are needed to our doors.

It’s an arduous task, this pushing of snow into huge mounds.  Surviving on catnaps, their eyes red from the white glisten of falling snow.

It goes on for hours; hours and hours of pushing and moving the swirling and drifting snow.   And the Snow Warrior’s concentration, just like his/her will stays focused to combat the white barrage of snow, and to not become mesmerized by the loveliness of crystal snowflakes that enthrall children and skiers alike.  But the endless clearing of parking lots, walkways, sidewalks and miles and miles of roadways is the Snow Warriors domain and the snow, an unwelcome intruder. He’s someone’s father, husband, uncle, brother and she’s a sister, a mother, a wife and someone waits at home, hoping for their safe return.

They’re risking their own safety to protect ours. And yet, they mostly go unknown and without thanks.  This storm, like all of the previous storms finds the Snow Warrior ready and plow-mounted forever forward, making their way so we can make our way, after the storm passes.  So, I’m giving thanks to the many men and women who fight snow and thinking…

Why hasn’t anyone realized the vast potential in Winter’s snow crop, as tomorrow’s cash cow?   With all of our tech wizardry, where’s our snow innovation when it comes to potable water?

 

 

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Filed under innovation, Snow

Notes From Analog to Digital

From Analog with Love

As this year comes to an end, I’m a bit emotional.  It’s an end to an era.   My elderly mother has become that lady we use to laugh about and I’ve grown old.

My journey is very different from how it began.   And like most people, I’ve never benefitted from a personal roadmap or a handbook.  Sometimes the experiences have dove-tailed nicely into place, as if by destiny and other times, nothing seemed to work.   But we’re still here.

Each struggle– yours, mine and hers– has had it’s own purpose.  We’ve compensated for our weaknesses by making athletes into heroes and found motivation reading stories about a little train that could.   And during sleep we’ve gained some of our greatest insights into this life, lessons only a sub-conscious mind could learn, like forgiveness, forgetfulness and the art of moving on.

Our dreams were useful tools that helped us endure and combat injustices in daylight.  But the truth is, our world has been diced and sliced into so many pieces, that few get a fair deal.  And global issues, like climate change really will require us all to make a difference.   Adults much more than our children…

Which is interesting, because as adults we are often expected to do the right thing, but without added incentive.  Even in America, where the stalwart of childhood is a reward/punishment culture, where every child on the soccer team receives an award for participation, but no reward is given to the parent that nurtured and fed the talent.

And rewards grow more elusive as we enter adulthood, with few exceptions outside academia or military service.   I wonder why?

With so many adults on FaceBook, Twitter and Snapchat, each pining for attention and seeking acceptance.   Social media indicates that there’s a need, and why wouldn’t there be?  Having been raised in the reward/punishment system, it seems rather logical and a bit unnatural if we weren’t busy trying to be seen.

If we use trophies and medals to foster good behavior, why do we stop using that form of motivation? Particularly as we grow older?

Why shouldn’t we want to read our name in the newspaper, or on social media?  An obituary isn’t a true blue ribbon.  What if we learnt early in life, that pro-creation isn’t an achievement and staying out of jail isn’t an accomplishment?  What if there were small awards for those behaviors?  Would we as a people do better at life?

Me?  I’m mostly self-taught.   I used a length of chain link fence to learn how to ride a two wheel bicycle.  I paddled a row boat into the middle of a lake, and jumped into dark waters to learn how to swim.  During winter break, I shoveled snow in the schoolyard so I could play basketball, because I wasn’t allowed inside the school gym with the boys.  And my high school guidance counselor instructed me to drop out of school and have babies, I went to the public library instead and taught myself telephony, electric code and telecommunications, all marketable trade skills.

I’ve used  pulse technology and rotary telephones; spoken with operators of switch controlled, data entry, card punched computers and watched the first manned trip to the moon– all feats of analog technology.   But earlier this month, the SpaceX program sent a rocket ship into space, it returned and landed vertically, so it can be used again… that’s a digital feat!

Aiming a little higher.  In a digital world, there ought to be social media awards, ones that make us as individuals aim a little higher.  Who knows, maybe that will help us save our planet.

I’m willing.  I wouldn’t mind a little plastic trophy to put on my bric-a-brac shelf.   Besides Heaven seems a long way off and I’m not particularly sure that’s where I’m headed, once I leave here.   Besides, there’s still time for me to do some good.

Happy New Year 2016 !   Notes from analog to digital, an Honor Roll of the greatest use of technology.

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Filed under Life, NewYear2016, Uncategorized

Technology Can’t Follow Back

1 thought cloud

How can the very thing that makes you happy, also make you sad?

Social media is such a part of our daily lives, that it’s hard to imagine waking up and not accessing FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

Even romantic vacation spots aren’t immune, finger swipes to the right and broken hearts to the left.    We love social media and the way it makes us feel connected.  As if we’re part of something.

There’s a very real possibility that we’re no longer who we were when we created our profile pages.   Jobs change, references change and yes, the world changed.   The fact that I followed you on Twitter, is not actionable, neither is it legal or binding.

In fact it’s deniable.  Truth is you don’t know me from Eve and I don’t know you from Adam.  But it feels as if I do and I like that, because we’re social beings.

Once again I’m reminded how technology works, free of emotions.  That’s us, and its no surprise that even here in cyberspace, people are lonely.   Technology, you see will never love us back…

I’m only thinking like this now, because it’s the eve of what would’ve been my friend’s 58th birthday.  She told me that she was quite through with love, no matter with whom.   She announced that no lover was worth the diets, the clothes or the time.

She was plumper since her divorce, maybe anger masked her depression and covered her with the warm embrace of her own flesh.  She popped a bottle of champagne open and chuckled.  Yes, she insisted, she was done with the notion of falling in love.

We toasted her newfound independence, but I was filled with sadness.   She reassured me that she was fine, patted me on my hand and refilled our glasses.  Chin up and jovial about the whole thing.

L…O…V…E…   Whether we admit it or not, we all want to love and be loved.   We humans require it from birth into adulthood. Just like a plant needs sunshine, our development depends on how much love we’ve been given in our childhood, and then into adulthood. And while physical love is important, it is not as developmentally important as emotional love. Because sometimes you can be in love with someone, and still be very lonely.   My friend was like that…

It’s been said, that a body that is not at ease will become diseased, and so it was with my friend.   Five years later, when she was to turn 63 years old, she succumbed to a very curable cancer.

From her death bed she smiled at me, asked for paper and penned an apology for having refused treatment.

Ironically, her decision to not love someone else had somehow interrupted the flow of loving herself.    Her life…  or maybe it was simply a case of disuse or maybe she had forgotten how to love.

Technology can’t follow back but I can…

Nowadays, I find myself liking more people on FaceBook and it’s easy to follow on Twitter.

Life is for the living; it’s meant to be shared.    While technology has made the world incredibly small, it’s still a lot of people to meet.  We can’t go backwards, but going forward lets get LinkedIn.

For my friend…  love trumps hate every time.

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Filed under #Lovetrumpshate, Uncategorized

Teleological Technology & Me

#Open Tech

Most people won’t talk about it, but technology isn’t very friendly.  Ever notice, it never smiles?

There’s a teleological affect that’s inherent in our technology, as if being standoffish is ordained and necessary.    That something so silly as a whirligig could become an airplane propeller is astounding, but it can’t smile.

We can.  I smile, even when I’m not happy.   Not because I’m rich, or that I’ve never known hunger, but for one very simple reason– to put another human-being at ease.   So we might share.

A smile, it’s a whole conversation, without a word passing between us.  No, it doesn’t mean we’re best buds, or I’ll invite you to move into my home.   However it does lay the ground work, that there might be an extension of those amenities as a result of a wordless gesture.

It doesn’t matter that I don’t yet know which language you speak.   We human-beings are versatile, we can learn and adapt.  Especially when we think its worth our while, and sometimes it just makes sense.   So we share information and resources for our survival.  Our commonality expects it of us on the basest of levels, that being survival.   Even before we begin the process of evaluating, vetting and analyzing true intentions; we smile.

Technology can’t, so we’ve given it Emojis.  A cheap replacement for our feelings, facial expressions that convey our intentions.   So, machines can pass along our warm-gushy feeling and treat us virtually the same.  Hence, my cellphone has learnt my likes from yours, and it stands to reason, so has your cellphone.  Likewise your smart device, being as smart as it is, is equally as smart as his; same make, same model and proper updates.   🙂

In fact, technology is so efficient, it could care less who’s using it, switching easily from one user level to the next, neither engaged or distracted by the lack of expertise.   And that’s it!

The real magic of technology is it brings us together by the temporary blindness of our differences.   It’s a skillset that human beings don’t naturally have,  to be devoid of individualism isn’t our focus.

Sadly, distractions like hunger and thirst aren’t only intrusive, they’re necessary.  So is the part about being irrational and divisive, filed under illogical.   But technology has none of that, it has no use of religion, gender bias, race discrimination or politics.

The irony is we want more technology and we want it to be smarter.  That regardless of human use, technology has intrinsic purpose and in order for it to perform, it must be allowed to flourish.   And so it exists without smiling.

iSmile. iPhone and iWonder…

What if there was a detour, where humans stopped and became a little teleological, just like our technology.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under technology

Yesterday’s Tech Now

#Tech Study

Nostalgia.  That word aims to impress, as if every bit of our past is glorious.  Funny, one person’s account of the way it was, seems fairly different from another person’s account.   And those days, really were College Daze.

Technology is changing our perception, what was won’t be and what is, isn’t ours to reminisce over.   Without such strong convictions, our traditions will seem less important.  The past will be less impressive and old authority less oppressive.

The games we play are changing us, free of religion and politics, we ‘re allowed the joy of winning a trillion jewels as we embark onto the next level.  There seems an infinite amount of possibilities and we’re neither bored nor frustrated by this; which is strange.   Stranger still, is the fact that we practice at these games without being made to or told that we must.

We become deeply engaged in an activity that requires time, concentration and we pay to play.  Sure the payment isn’t monetary, so we’re less worried.  But to think, so many finger swipes and so much data, from IP addresses to our likes and dislikes.  Data gathered stored and analyzed, while we play Jewel Hunt!

That’s powerful stuff.

And one day, that stuff will tell our story.  The games we played, what we liked and disliked and who were our friends.  All of this information will be preserved and live-streamed to us,  on a platform called “Our Memories”.    Telling us what we struggled to forget, our stories manipulated into ready fill order:  “iNostalgic”.

We are a changing society, today’s mores and values have replaced our ancestor’s principled beliefs.   So curated arts, culture, and education that was once spoon fed will be outdated.  It’ll be replaced by new inventions, new research and opened to new interpretation.  Long ago vetted information will now be less useful, but technology can’t protect us from ourselves.

Ironically, to enjoy the good, like the orange glow of an Autumn afternoon, we might have to admit the human mind’s ability to filter our memories is positive.  There’s pleasantry associated with remembering the regal day, without the total recall of the argument that preceded the moment, that left him alone, seated in a picture window depicted in a print by Norman Rockwell.   Mercifully, emotions like pain aren’t remembered verbatim.

The Digital Age will have no boundaries, and our memories will be streamed to us intact.  Yours will look eerily similar to mine and mine to his.   Hopefully it’ll be worthwhile, like watching a replay of your favorite sport.  By watching it, perhaps we’ll discern what we did right, what we did wrong and what we could do better.   And then like the games we play, we can practice to get rewards and maybe even reach the next level.

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Filed under Baby boomers, Gender Equality, tech, technology

Private Note to Baby Boomers

1 tech typewriter

It’s time now.  Come on, wake up. It’s your turn to make this world right.  Gummy bears and cotton candy, sweet dreams that form the cutting edge of innovation, because you are the epitome of possibility.  And yes,  the world may yet become a better place, because you’re in it.

So, finally, you’re about to graduate from parent-hood.  It’s truly an OMG kind of moment, where whimsy meets reality and you’re the star!  Soon emotion will stir with nostalgia to create a refreshing new out look and life will change forever.  It begins with a small spark within your soul, like a bead of perspiration that grows and flows.  Yes, there may be discomfort and moments of anxiety, but isn’t that what growth is all about?  Change always seems to include some discomfort.

Funny, but family will take on new meaning, as those things that once infuriated you about them, will become dear memories.  Those things that were so annoying, will be funny attributes.  You’ll miss the toys underfoot and the security blanket that you once wrapped around them, just as they once held your face in their round hands.   Cute.  It seems a hug isn’t a yoke after all, we’re made to love unconditionally, not because we have to… but simply because.

So as you prepare to trade in the mini-van for the Tesla, take a moment and pause…

Look around and see what once was and who you’ve become.   Remember how many baby steps they mastered before you learnt to let go, and they smiled.  And it was their triumphant and confident strides into womanhood that made you smile.    Relax, you’re not walking away from family, but instead into your own future.  Sure it’s a little bit frightening, but it’s also exciting.  And every step will become your mark in this world.   So step lively, be graceful and write!  Begin again, with kind and fresh footsteps wherever you go.

It’s technical, not a technicality.  Come on, it’s your turn to shine.   Let’s see how you do.

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers

The Pursuit of Smarty Pants

#smarty pants d

Smarty pants!  Not so long ago that label was reserved for sarcasm and usually accompanied by some form of bullying.   It wasn’t exactly an endearment that made you the “Big Girl On Campus”

But what if?

Much of what’s happening in our digital world happens so fast, that before it’s completely absorbed, we’re onto the next thing.   What was once generally accepted as taboo, is added to our “To Do” lists.   And jumbled together, what’s derogatory is the new compliment!   Hello.

When it won’t fit neatly into our compartments, we stuff the data into storage space.   Renting clouds is like that, from standard to hybrids.  They’ve become a necessity, and what we once paid for, is now free, a supposed perk of disruptive innovation.

But remember Blockbuster Videos, the store that rented out our favorite games and videos?  It was quickly replaced by Netflix’s streaming videos on-demand.  And once upon a time, we didn’t blink twice to be charged for an email account, that too became passé.   Acronyms can be like that, easily replacing an “L”  for an “A”, making us laugh out loud at  America On-Line.

Still, deep down inside, we know that nothing is free.   We’ve simply exchanged one thing for something else, the latest commodity, our personal data.

Facebook recently had a judgment made against them, by the EU court in Europe, on a privacy case.   A case with such huge ramifications that it’s most likely a triple threat- dare, of the mammoth size, where there’ll be no clear winners.

It seems that the digital world doesn’t turn in a predetermined static-free orbit, after all.  But instead it’s in a constant state of flux.    Laws written fifteen years ago have become out dated, transcontinental e-commerce that was once all the rage, is now the brunt of outrage.   And it’s hard to predict which way it goes.

Because technology just keeps moving, incapable of feeling, it’s capable of separating good people from their data.   The word open platform doesn’t always lead to bug fixes, or great results.   Sometimes, it leads to new ways to discover breaches to be breached.

And budgets spent to fix what’s discovered, breaks relations and leads to distrust and clandestine meetings.  A cycle, that the Internet Of Things might avert, because its capable of firewalling data in that machine to machine way, without being paranoid.   Making ulterior motives apparent and functioning more efficiently.

But first… we all put our pants on the same way, one leg at a time.

As we pull our digital pants on, we’ll know what data is collected and dispersed.   Data collected will be gathered by how hard we pull today versus yesterday.  Whether that movement was swift or jerky; and if our grip around the waist band was strong or weak.  And was the fit loose or snug?  Things like body temperature and amino acid level inside, read by an inseam.  Our diet adjusted automatically, and accordingly.

Oh, and the best part will be the multi-functional zipper.  The head-end that communicates to the internet of things– Our refrigerator and our coffee machines.  Simultaneously turned on, preferred sources of information will stream in real-time.   Our location, the day’s weather, morning traffic and news.  The pharmacy notified, pre-written prescriptions filled and the car’s heated seats, turned on.

While there’s a lot that might go Topsy-Turvy, there’s an awful lot that might just go right.   The true pursuit of happiness in a pair of smarty pants!

Nicely done, aging in place.

 

 

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Filed under Big Data, Internet of Things, tech, technology, Wearables

Ideas: Selling More Than Technology

# vacuum hoover tech

What if the vacuum cleaner salesmen did more than just suction up pet hairs?

What if there was a subliminal conversation?  Words of encouragement and a smile that hinted, “your time is more valuable, than you think”.

If a sales pitch is the purest form of Persuasive Speech, then it also has to be flattering.  As she watched him unload and pack up his machine, her mind would have wandered.   Demonstrations have that before-after effect.

Think, Prometheus returning with fire…

It’s likely that the first reaction to a flame was to reach out and touch it, but as any moth has discovered, a touch can be fatal.   So, the second more thought out reaction  to fire would’ve been to apply a “Best Use Practice” and not get burnt.

The vacuum cleaner was thought to be, just another fad; more for those with health issues, like breathing problems than the general population.  But then the vacuum cleaner did the one thing that all great technology does, it stayed.

Whisk!  The broom industry went into lower sales and poof, the carpet beater was gone!

Once the vacuum cleaner became affordable, the salesman became a welcome guest at every door.   He was a hero, with a simple gesture and a smile, no need of a sales pitch.   Technology had ignited a flame.

An added bonus was watching the salesman bend down to plug the vacuum cleaner in, to stand and turn it on.  Oh, what a treat that must’ve been, as he guided the vacuum cleaner across the dirty floor.   Surely, she must’ve smirked just a little, as a man did the proverbial “women’s work”.

Stuck in the carpet, were bits of dirt and shards of glass, just like her dreams.  Scattered long ago and deeply embedded in the carpet’s fiber.  So much so, that she had forgotten about them, until she saw the carpet become clean, its color returned.   She might’ve gasped a little to think of new uses of her free time, more vivid.

For days and weeks after the salesman had gone, she’d think back on the possibilities; of what she could achieve with the gift of time.  She shared her ideas with other women , at the window, shopping and back fence.  And if women can think alike, then they can raise their daughters with more education, so she’ll become a doctor, engineer and coder.  Maybe those vacuum cleaner salesmen hadn’t intended to, but they ended up selling more than a product, they sold her an idea.

Isn’t technology clever?  It completely changed the labor pool in a task driven society!

No gimmicks.  And eventually she’ll be paid equally.

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Filed under Coding, Consumers, Gender Equality, innovation, Vacuum cleaners, Women