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Leader: Technology is changing the way we live

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Imperceptibly, our lives are changing. The world of our parents and grandparents is becoming a lost world.

Imperceptibly, our lives are changing. The world of our parents and grandparents is becoming a lost world.

So many little habits and social tasks that they took for granted have been seamlessly superseded by new technologies which have brought along a whole load of new habits.

When did you last ring directory inquiries? When did you last ring the cinema to check film times? When did you last pick up prints of your photos?

These are just some of the things that have been identified by a survey as becoming things largely of the past.

Incredibly, the technologies which have had such a profound effect are still very young. The impact of the internet has gathered pace like a runaway train in recent years. One in five people are now never out of reach of an internet device, the new survey suggests.

The world is a different place, but whether it is a better or more courteous place is an open question.

An e-mailed thank you letter is an impersonal electronic note which has none of the magic of receiving a handwritten letter, the writing and posting of which actually demonstrates some thought and effort.

You used to ring people up and they would answer: "Ironbridge 3847." Now they will probably just say: "Hello."

Millions of photos are being taken of modern family life but, with so few being printed, a pitiful fraction will survive for the next generation – all the others will be obliterated by the delete button, or lost when you change your laptop which, at two years old, is already obsolete.

Yes, silicon chips have brought a revolution. But there are always those occasions – like when your computer's hard disk fails – that you realise that there is something to said for the "old ways".

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