Just how much technology does society really need?

Bill Milligan

Bill Milligan

My son sent us a photograph over the telephone the other day.

Neither my wife or I could tell what it was.

My wife looked at the picture for several minutes before she handed me the phone.

“What is that?”

I looked. And looked. I held the camera phone away and close up. I even moved my glasses to my forehead to get a natural peep. Nothing helped.

“What is it?” Debbie asked.

“It looks like an enchilada made of blue marble,” I told her. “I don’t know what that red thing in the middle is.”

She grabbed the phone away from me, saying, “I don’t know why I even bothered to ask you.”

She called my son and asked him what the picture was about.

Turned out the photo was of the sets of wings he has earned so far this year. Each time a pilot earns another accreditation the government or somebody gives them a different set of wings.

He had just been given a set that pilots would recognize as a certified flight instructor. Another set was for his instrument rating or to signify he can monitor his flight and land where he wants to even though he can’t see a damn thing.

The third was to signify he is accredited to fly multi-engine aircraft.

Three years ago he did all his flying in center field for Oakville Senior High and the Oakville American Legion team. I can remember taking him to kindergarten the first day and the lump in my throat as I left him with strangers for the first time.

But those memories are burned crystal clear in my mind’s eye. If I remember anything about the image on those little portable phones it will be that I couldn’t tell what it was until somebody explained them to me.

As a photographer I try never to let anyone see the lousy pictures I take.

It’s been years since I took one people couldn’t instantly identify al-though I do sometimes try to get our editor interested in special effects photographs like second-sync flash photography.

I just don’t understand some new technology any better than I understand the music industry.

I mean why would anybody try and re-make a Beatles’ song and not do it as well as the original? Why would someone invent the phone camera and then not be able to compete with the image quality of a throwaway camera?