Why lifetime and not childhood... well... I haven't grown up yet. I've grown out, and gotten older but as anyone who has seen me in Smyths will attest, I've not grown up. So I suppose my first favourite is a 1984 invention : "Transformers"
(an image blatantly stolen from Ben's World of Transformers)
What can I say, its my not so secret shame. The fact that I'm still collecting the toys shows that it' having an ongoing impact on my life.
Why? Well it's not the two toys in one. Partly I think it's the most extreme form of anthropomorphism you can get. Not only are you putting human emotions on to an inanimate object, you're making it take on humanoid characteristics too. It's also less damaging than dressing up your pet.
It also is the aspect that things aren't always as they seem. It changes the way you view the world. Twist it a little bit and... It could be a government conspiracy or (flip body around, open doors, lower head from backside, push along brass neck, unfold arms, unclench grubby little fists, detach brown envelope) incompetence on a grand scale.
However if I was going to pick a proper technoligical invention... it's this
O.K. Its actually another image stolen off Ben from this review but I'm talking about Mobile Phones
I know what you're thinking (other than "Will you're an idiot") which is everyone and their mother has one (even if it did take me three weeks to teach her to text so she could vote for that "nice boy" on "Strictly Come Dancing"), but the mobile phone has changed how people act with each other.
But what other device has caused such a social change?
Once people made exact appointments. Meet you under Eason's clock at 3pm on Friday. And at 4pm, still waiting, you felt very stood up. Now people make rough appointments, aproxi-meetings, and put in a call to the other's mobile to rearrange the meeting at the cinema directly due to traffic.
Once people used phone booths and pay phones.
I remember the "push button A" pay telephones (always press button B on a free phone to see if any change comes out. It's the old version of checking the base of the automatic cash registers in Tesco's). I remember those weird plastic bubbles next to the phones so that the caller could have privacy.
But that privacy is a long abandoned thing. I now know the intimate details of the recent gynaecological exam thanks to a mobile phone call on the bus.
And once we needed to wait for the results of a meeting or conference to be published. (Or passed notes in class) Now text updates can be shipped online while the meeting is still on (and notes are texted between schools).
It can also save your life. No hunting for a phone after an accident... now you hunt for a signal. And in large scale disaster, there have been cell broadcast SMS and tweets to help save lives.
That little handy computer in your pocket has changed the social interaction of not just a nation, but a huge chunk of the world. (It also looks a little like a Wii controller, hint, hint)
(and set it to vibrate during a solemn occasion, like a tribunal)
Now, who is going to be first to suggest "mash-ups"?
And I'll get around to updating the above photos with my own transformer shots... sorry Ben. I DO know better.
tags : science week ireland, blogging competition, invention, childhood, Mulley, Transformers, bwtf, Ben's World of Transformers, anthropomorphism, humanoid, mobile phone, social change, twitter, jaiku, pay telephone, privacy, text