Awesome subjects

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Expressing awe at anything nowadays makes one appear to be a simpleton, or at the very least, uncool.

Of course, my children and their friends say “awesome” at almost any expression of good fortune. But I still think true awe — expressing amazement, wonder or astonishment at something — is a sentiment we are expected to keep under wraps, in favor of a more contemporary blasé attitude.

So I’ve been feeling rather uncool lately (no big surprise there, my kids would say), as I’ve been finding myself surprised and awed on a near-daily basis. 

Subjects that I thought were interesting in elementary school — genetics, space, medicine, cars and gadgets (think James Bond) — now utterly amaze me. Or rather, what we have come to know about the world around us, and the many ways we have learned to master and manipulate that world, make me stare in wonder.

In part, that’s probably because I always remained a student of the liberal arts rather than the hard sciences. I simply don’t understand much of the underlying physics and chemistry of today’s developments.

Fortunately, one doesn’t have to understand how things are made or why they work in order to benefit from them. (And perhaps not understanding the inner workings makes their achievements all the more wonderful!) At any rate, I love to learn about, and where possible make use of, each day’s new discoveries.

You may have suspected this, if you are a regular Beacon reader. Many of our stories discuss a new means of medical diagnosis, treatment or cure; a new website or app to help make wise investments or save money on travel; a new gadget to help people save time or cope with a disability.

It’s not a coincidence: I gravitate toward stories that fascinate me, and it seems to me that the world is getting more and more fascinating by the hour.

This is why you will be seeing some changes in the Beacon starting next month. We will be introducing a new section of the paper — “Plain talk on tech” — focusing on the technologies and developments that promise to make our lives better (assuming the technologies of destruction don’t put an end to us first).

We are conceiving this new section broadly. Some of the stories will be those you have come to expect from our Fitness & Health section or our Law & Money section, addressing an app or website or new technique that addresses a health or financial need.

Others will be written specifically for this section, describing local initiatives and programs that can help you learn to use (or use better) your computer, smartphone, tablet and the like.

There will also be explanatory pieces delving into the practical side of technology: how to choose a new device, how to troubleshoot, as well as a question-and-answer column.

And we will be bringing you interesting information gleaned from websites, blogs and social media sites that you might want to visit yourself.

Overall, the common thread of our new section will be the changing technologies that affect how we live our lives, communicate with each other, interact with the world, and express ourselves and our creativity.

If you’re a techno-phobe — one who keeps your distance from new technologies either because you fear you cannot learn to use them or just feel you have nothing to gain from them — I urge you to give it a look anyway. While each article will address some new technology in some way, we will strive to make them as clear, readable and useful (or at least interesting) as we can.

There’s so much more we can say. But I will let our new section speak for itself. Please look for it next month. And let me know what you think of it! 

Organizations and businesses interested in being a part of this new section are invited to call us at (410) 248-9101.