Facebook is definitely a mixed blessing, depending on a) how many people from your past (or present) connect up with you that you didn't really need to hear from, b) how skilled you are at blocking annoying posts without alienating the authors and c) how much you know about Facebook privacy. I do know more about some people's games and politics than I really ever needed or wanted to. But I'm also happy to feel more a part of peoples' lives whom I care about that are far away than I ever was before. Plus I re-connected with a friend from childhood, arranging an in-person meeting for the first time in 20+ years.
Twitter is less about keeping in touch with a network of people I actually know and more about discovering people I don't know who share my interests and have extremely useful things to say. I've found a lot of interesting articles and ideas from folks I've followed, and hope those who follow me at @sharon000 feel the same.
StumbleUpon. This one is just plain fun. After setting up my account and recording interests ranging from work-related to hobbies, I've really enjoyed seeing new Web sites come up with useful or interesting information about subjects I like.
Digital cameras. Most still aren't as good as film for everything -- shooting sunsets, capturing some vivid reds -- but for the vast majority of needs, today's generation of digicams give impressive image quality in an instant. It's not only the patience-free portion of my personality that appreciates not having to develop film (or wait for a Polaroid); digital also makes it much easier to share photos with family and friends.
Smart phones. I'll admit this one isn't always a net positive in life. Sometimes it's hard to be fully in the present moment with the pull of that addictive device; and it's downright annoying when you're talking or dining with someone and they whip out the device to look at a text or e-mail. But it's nice to be able to keep track of sporting events while away from a TV or look up reviews of nearby restaurants while out and about.
Plus, if the person next to you on the bus has a smartphone instead of simpler cell phone, odds are higher they'll be looking at the screen instead of yelling into the mike.
E-readers. I don't actually have one of these yet, although a Kindle is coming for the holidays. But I'm already grateful at the thought of future vacations without having to haul around a bunch of guidebooks.
I'd be interested to find out what technology you're thankful for in the comments below, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Sharon Machlis is online managing editor at Computerworld. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Twitter
@sharon000, on Facebook or by subscribing to her RSS feeds:
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This story, "Technology I'm Thankful For" was originally published by Computerworld.