Todd, a very popular musician, may be a good prospect (see below). My apologies, if this is old news.
March 9, 1999
I saw the Light By Todd Rundgren Technology has not changed my life. The chill that many feel when they hear that word is unknown to me. I grew up in a house filled with my father's tools. I don't remember a time without a refrigerator, toaster, electric range, radio, record player...or the TV where Walt Disney showed us Tomorrowland. The family magazine pile was substantially stacked with issues of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics--technology was already "popular." In high school, while others gravitated toward the gymnasium and athletic fields, I found myself showing up at the local Bell Telephone office to watch what is now a primitive form of data processing. After I graduated I joined a band and spent hours honing my "technique"--a style of blues guitar playing called "bottleneck" or "slide" to which I applied a pulley from a computer punched-card sorter. I later discovered the wonders of altered consciousness through substances that were created in a "lab"--complex molecules only recently isolated and synthesized, but around in some form since before man crawled from the ooze. I wondered about other ways of life and cultures, and airliners allowed me to follow the pathways I had only read about and imagined, carried along substantially by the electrified commerce of my American Express card. It is only in those moments, when consciousness is disconnected from mankind and its artifacts, that technology is not a contributing factor to the quality of life. Economics--the inexorable dynamic of the marketplace--has changed my life. There came a time when all the computing power of that roomful of Bell Telephone mainframes was available to me at the cost of a good-quality guitar, which is still a lot less than a grand piano. How could I refuse the latest technologies? It was a perfectly natural buying decision that millions of people have since made. The first automobile was a technology. The millionth automobile is a commodity. Would life be different without a particular technology? Yes, but not for long. Someone would soon recognize the need and discover a way to satisfy it, economics allowing. And we will all experience and benefit from those discoveries. We are not a technologically advanced culture as opposed to, say, a village of Mongolian jute farmers. We are within an economic milieu that makes certain things affordable to us and not to them. Technology allows me to leave quibbles about technology and economics aside. Because of the increasing ubiquity of a relatively primitive technology called the Internet, I can deliver my product to a global audience in the morning, walk the trails of the Na Pali coast in the afternoon and gaze upon the Milky Way at night--from my vantage point, out here in the middle of the ocean, the celestial bodies are vivid and detailed because of the lack of city lights. It is only in those moments, when consciousness is disconnected from mankind and its artifacts, that technology is not a contributing factor to the quality of life. Yet, before long, I start to wonder what it would take to travel to those stars.... Todd Rundgren is a producer and musician who is currently creating and selling his music through his web site TR-i.com. When not touring or producing, he lives in Hawaii, where he communicates only by E-mail. He does not have a telephone. ™© 1999 Forbes Inc. Terms, Conditions and Notices