Dec. 18, 2006

A Very Digital Christmas

For our last Digital History class, we talked about histories of the Future. Last night, my dad suggested that I write a post about what the Christmas story might be like in a digital age. Well, since I don’t often use my dad’s history ideas, and because it’s Christmas, and because it’s amusing to finish the semester on a more up-beat note than my last post, I thought, “Why not?” It might not be history or even good scholarly writing, but perhaps the reader will gain a greater appreciation of the digital ubiquity that we are racing towards, which I referred to in my last post. Here then is how the Christmas story might have played out in a digital context; it’s only a small part of the story, but I think that you will get the idea.

Merry Christmas Dad!

After the angel Gabrielle had left, Joseph pulled out his cell phone and called Mary to let her know that he would indeed still marry her. Now at that time, the Roman emperor sent emails and text messages throughout all the land informing everybody that a census was to be taken. All of the people of Judea were to return to their place of birth immediately. Mary was away at market when the email was sent, but Joseph immediately text-messaged her to inform her that they both must travel to Jerusalem. Mary immediately added items necessary for travel onto the shopping list she had on her cell phone, and the built-in GPS generated a shopping route that would enable her to get these items for the best price in the least amount of time. At home, Joseph searched for a dealer in donkeys. The resulting search generated a map that indicated the closest donkey dealers as well as the prices for a rental. Finding a reputable dealer than was equidistant between himself and Mary, Joseph text-messaged the address to Mary’s cell phone, so that her GPS could again re-adjust to meet him at the dealer.

As he walked out the door, Joseph found a podcast to listen to about successfully bartering with donkey dealers. As Mary whisked through the market, she listened to a podcast on feeding and caring for rented donkeys. At the donkey dealership, Joseph could wave his phone by each donkey’s ear and download information regarding the donkey’s history and medical condition as well as reviews by other people who had rented that particular donkey (stars indicated the overall rating, haystacks indicated how much the donkey ate, shoes indicated speed, and flies indicated how smelly the animal was after a day of travel across a desert). While Mary waited for Joseph to finish bartering, she connected to the dealership’s wireless network to download onto her laptop ebooks, vodcasts, and the latest blog posts regarding birthing. Once the donkey was rented and loaded with everything Mary and Joseph would need for their journey to Jerusalem, Joseph emailed inns in Bethlehem to find out where there were vacancies. Joseph’s email program, noticing that Joseph was writing a message with the words “Bethlehem,” “inns,” “vacancy,” and “next week,” automatically opened another window with relevant news feeds. Mary and Joseph discovered that, for the first time in forty years, Bethlehem had no room at any of the inns. A quick search on eBay uncovered a stable that was available though. Joseph put in a bid, and ten minutes later, Mary and Joseph had a place to lay their heads in Bethlehem. As Joseph grumbled about the empire’s poor logistical planning of holding a census, he and Mary began to make their way towards Bethlehem.

May you all experience great peace this Christmas season!