I am on an old computer today. It doesn’t work with all of my newfangled iPads, Keynote files, or the standard version of Gmail. I feel a little bit lost on it, actually. I can’t do the things I would normally. I have to figure out workarounds. I don’t have any issues with doing this. I am energized by figuring out how to do new things with old hardware. But, it does make me think about just how little backwards compatibility really exists. Not just with our technology, but within ourselves.
It makes me think back to when I was using this tech the first time around. Who was I then? Am I compatible with that person, even? Back then, I had no idea about what two children meant. I hadn’t made some of my current closest friends, and I certainly hadn’t figured out that there was something after teaching. In short, I was probably about 25% of who I am now just a few years ago. And I don’t think that today’s me is all that compatible with the one I was.
I’m pretty sure that the two of us would fight, actually. We would fight about what is the most important thing to be doing with our lives (creating greater change or teaching kids how to think for themselves). We would argue over money and influence and connections. He would probably read books right in my face (seeing as how I hardly have time to do that now). I would probably shoot back about how much I know about life through my son. He would laugh at the grey hairs and the bags under my eyes. I would poke fun at his uninformed workflow and lack of vision.
I am not the man I was, but I don’t want to be. I would never give up what I have for what I have been. That is why I feel as though backwards compatibility is overrated. While it may make sense for some technologies, I realized through the process of having to recreate a presentation from one that stripped out all of the links and some of the images, that the whole thing needed to be reworked anyway. I realized that the person that gave the presentation last time isn’t compatible with who I am today. Why should the presentation itself be that way?
Sometimes, we should be forced to give up 70 percent of what we had so that we can become what we can become. In a presentation, it will transform the message and the intent. In a person, it will transform our actions and our personalities.
So, are we backwards compatible? No. And we shouldn’t strive to be. We should go forward, relentlessly. We should forget and retry and revise until we can look at one version and the next and see the actual progress. Kind of like the ways in which we look at Internet Explorer 6 now. It is time to retire who we were (IE6 should die, actually). We can always look back, but we don’t have to keep building who we are so that compatibility is assured. It is convenient sometimes, but most of the time it just holds us back.
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