I reached the zenith of my erstwhile career as a “technology commentator” in 1995. The previous summer I had produced a summer series for the local Island Morning show called “A User’s Guide to the Future.” It was all my friend Ann Thurlow’s fault. And, also, I suspect, due to Ann’s patronage, I found myself in the Morningside rolodex filed under “technology.”
And so it came to be that I found myself standing beside a van in the field outside the Robertson Library at the University of PEI one May morning in 1995. The inimitable Barry Vessey was at the controls in the van and, through the magic of radio, I was hooked up with Peter Gzowski, Kevin Kelly, and Gerri Sinclair talking about, as Gzowski put it, “a swing of the pendulum.”
We were gathered together as a part of a series called “The New World” to talk about the impact of the “new technology” on all of us.
Thanks to my father’s compulsive documentary instincts, I’ve come into possession of a recording of the panel. Oh how young I sound — almost chipmunk like; I’d like to think that is an artefact of the audio compression, but I fear I simply was that young and urgent.
My favourite part of the session comes near the end:
Me: I wonder if we should maybe just all calm down a little bit… ah, not us here specifically, but society in general…
Gzowski: Ah, the voice of Prince Edward Island… calm down!
Me: Yes, indeed… I just… I’m thinking about the fact that I’m sitting here in a field on the campus of UPEI talking into a little metal thing talking to someone in Toronto and someone in Ottawa, that seems pretty amazing to me in the greater context of technology… radio’s been around for 100, 150 years and I still think it’s amazing, and I don’t think we’ve explored the boundaries of it at all yet.
Oh to be characterized as the calming voice of Prince Edward Island. Those were the days.