When I was a kid, my brother and I used to run string between a pair of tin cans as our backyard versions of walkie-talkies. One of us would shout into his can while the other strained to capture a sound wave or two at the other end, but the truth was that the cans got in the way. The normal talking voice was far superior.
Of course that didn’t stop us from investigating other communications practices, like the time our Cub Scout den tried our hands at smoke signals, setting up our base of operations on a parched hillside above Los Angeles. The experiment proved to be a raging success, summoning a very spirited cavalry charge from a pair of shiny and very noisy fire trucks led by a red-faced captain who suggested in no uncertain terms that we not seek merit badges on his turf.
Today’s kids have electronic devices that make not only those but also the ones I used in the Marine Corps look painfully primitive. I am constantly amazed at the facility with which teenagers can take and send photos to their most immediate circle of friends; at the same time texting the captions, and then posting the whole mess to the entire population of the planet, some of whom seem thrilled to receive things that to me are about as intelligible as what came out of the string-and-can approach.
So how do your job-site communications systems measure up to what’s already passé on the playground these days? With cell phones all but ubiquitous, and laptops and touch pads coming onto the scene at the speed of heat, all we need now is for the kids to come up with teleportation devices.
“Hey boss, beam me over a D-11.”