This hammer, this screwdriver, and these pliers used to belong to my father when he was still alive. I got them when he died, and they hang on the wall in my tool shed along with other tools. Some I have bought myself and some came from my fathers collection of tools. And some of the tools come from my grandfather.
I often use both the hammer and the screwdriver and everytime I do, I feel a sort of connection to my father. I look at the dents and scratches and get a sense of him working with these tools. To make a living, to fix things at home and for his many hobbies. They show the wear of that work.
I sometimes think about my own tools. Every day I use Microsoft Word, Adobe FrameMaker, PhotoShop and a wide range of other software tools, big and small. These tools show no wear. They LOOK old, when for instance I load FrameMaker 7 or an equally old version of Word or Photoshop. But the tools are, in a sense, still new. No dents and scratches in FrameMaker 7.1!
The physical representation of all these software tools are a box of plastic cassettes, cd's and dvd's and an old, nondescript pc in nondescript materials. It is all, essentially, a bunch plastic and some license numbers and I believe my children will have a hard time investing any kind of fond memories, or find any kind of usefulness in the tools they are going to inherit from me.
Later years have done away with the cd's, dvd's etc altogether. Much easier to have all the tools on a hard drive... somewhere... else. Even though I have NO idea whatsoever WHERE "somewhere else" is from a geographical point of view.
I am certainly not alone in spending my working day with ghostly tools shining out of a bluish screen leaving only a worn plastic mouse, a plastic keyboard and a heap of eletronics when I turn them off.
I do sometimes wonder what this kind of disconnect means in broader perspective. We have always been able to form a connection to generations before us, by understanding, using and improving their tools. But software leaves very few physical traces. (beyond heaps of e-waste) Perhaps it is of no consequence or perhaps we just need to understand inheritance by other values and parameters.
What kind of tools will you be leaving for your kids?