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Old Vs. New

I once read about an Australian Aborigine storyteller having a problem. He was the passenger in a car and he kept talking impossibly faster and faster as he tried to tell his story to the driver. It seems this traditional narrative developed over the generations, as storyteller and listeners walked along the countryside. As the car whizzed past the roadside landmarks, the storyteller fought a losing battle to match his story with the landscape speeding by.

That account comes to mind because of this month�s feature on Kentucky storytellers. It also says a lot about the clash of the old and new we struggle with these days.

In 1982, when futurist John Naisbitt became famous with his book Megatrends, he declared, �Make change your friend.�

I don�t always feel like �embracing change.� But I concede I use a lot of new developments. Among the lessons I take from the aboriginal rider is that change brings both good and bad. A car may have ruined that story, but cars sure come in handy.

Although few changes are all good or all bad, some lean heavily in one direction or the other. Here are one person�s judgments on our top innovations:

The Internet, good: while writing this column it took me 45 seconds to research the publication date of Megatrends. E-mail is a great way to stay in touch with people (but don�t stop handwriting those thank-you notes).

Cell phones, bad: they�re overused. Save them for when you�re late to an appointment, so you don�t have to rush, or when your car breaks down. Don�t use them to tell people where you are and where you�re going.

Voice mail, good: entire transactions can take place in much less time. And it�s better than being put on hold.

Radio and TV call-in shows, bad: these mostly give forums to cranky people.

Credit cards, bad: economists can explain credit�s benefits, but it�s gotten too easy.

Debit cards, good: writing checks is a pain.

Reality TV shows: who knows what to make of those things?

The housing development replacing the farm across from my neighborhood, bad.

Electricity and indoor plumbing, very good.

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