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35 Years and Counting

Jeff Gunderson

We are celebrating Minnesota Sea Grant’s 35th anniversary this year (see article this issue). Having been part of the program for 30 years of this history, two things really stand out for me:

1. How fast time seems to have flown, and
2. How much things have changed over that time.

When our program started in 1975 there were no personal computers. We wrote correspondence and drafted publications on typewriters. Even small changes resulted in retyping whole documents. There were no cell phones, no digital cameras, and no GPS units. E-mail, the Internet, and cheap calculators were nonexistent. In 1975 we paid around $100 for simple calculators similar to the ones now given out for free as promotional items.

Technology has definitely changed the way we conduct our business. PowerPoint (and similar computer projection software and accompanying hardware) has made 35 mm slides obsolete and our presentations more spontaneous, dynamic, and fluid. Instead of being forced to plan a presentation weeks in advance and locking into standard visual aids, we can now easily develop visually exciting presentations that can be changed or updated until moments before they are delivered. And, we don’t have to remember “upside down and backwards.” While we no longer worry about a reversed slide or dumping a tray of slides, technical problems can still keep us on edge – some things don’t change that much.

It is hard to remember how we functioned without the Internet since Google (and other search engines) provide such a wealth of information almost instantaneously. Today, if two people are arguing about something, like whether wood ticks can jump or not, there is likely someone within earshot with an Internet connection who can provide the answer before the argument gets even a little heated.

In this issue of the Seiche, you’ll see an announcement about the new climate change section on our Web site. Keeping true to our mission and vision, our climate focus is on science and how a changing climate could affect Lake Superior and Minnesota’s aquatic resources.

While the predictions for significant impacts from climate change may sound far in the future, we need to remind ourselves that 35 years can speed by quickly and encompass significant changes. People in 2045 might still marvel at the way time flies, but they will likely be capitalizing on technologies we can scarcely imagine in an environment we have all helped to modify.

In 2045, when they (and possibly you) look back 35 years, I’m hopeful that they’ll admire the accuracy of our climate change predictions and how well the world worked together to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. As you read the March 2010 Seiche, remember that 1975 wasn’t too long ago, and that 2045 isn’t too distant.

By Jeff Gunderson
March 2010

Return to March 2010 Seiche

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