December 31, 1969

Sept. 1, 2007
The recurring thought I had during the early days of August was built around two separate actions...

by Mark Hartley

The recurring thought I had during the early days of August was built around two separate actions:

  • I bid farewell to my dental hygiene friends in the lobby of the Omni Shoreham in Washington, D.C.
  • I wrote the article appearing on page 16

For the times they are a-changing. Bob Dylan, of course, wrote that in 1964, a full five years before the date of the headline above.

The article on page 16 refers to a “virtual trade show” called RDH Event. Not a single guest room in the entire Omni hotel chain is needed for this conference. The transportation costs are even cheaper - just walk to whatever room your home computer is in.

It’s not virtual as in “virtual reality” where nerdy guys slaughter aliens in arcade games as if “you’re actually there, dude.” But it comes pretty close. You instant message exhibitors in one-on-one conversations while “standing” in their booth, which, if the exhibitor is smart, will offer a variety of things you can do while visiting. The seminars are an interactive blend of PowerPoint and audio streaming, culminating in a live question-and-answer session. You can get to know fellow attendees in a casual networking area, just like almost 1,000 dental hygienists did at RDH Under One Roof in the Omni Shoreham last month.

But RDH Event is not intended to supplant RDH Under One Roof, the popular summertime dental conference for dental hygienists.

Or will it?

RDH Event acknowledges that, in today’s world, folks are limited in time and resources (not to mention: Who doesn’t get tired of the downgraded services provided by airlines?) The things we can do on our computers to save time never seems to end.

But some of you - being the dental professionals you are - still enjoy close interaction with your fellow human beings, whether in an operatory or in the exhibit hall of Chicago’s McCormick Place. Secondly, are you still holding your breath that technology will work when you want it to? I am.

December 31, 1969.

I stared at that date for almost a week in my hotel room at the Omni. I had borrowed a laptop computer from the company, and the internal date was set and locked on December 31. 1969. I couldn’t blog about “UOR” on MySpace. I couldn’t work on this issue of RDH for the better part of a week. The computer was useless.

So what happened on December 31, 1969? Well, being New Year’s Eve, some folks likely reflected on these events as they got drunk for the new year: The Charlie Manson hippie cult went on their rampage; Woodstock offered its music (although then it was still OK to pretend you were not actually there); the assassins of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. admitted their guilt in court; and, of course, mankind took its giant step on the moon.

But it turns out that the significance of December 31, 1969, happened the next day. On January. 1, 1970, the Unix system began operating, so the previous day meant the same thing as “zero” to a computer.

Regardless, you can still feel it. For the times they are a-changing. The technology will eventually be reliable - just carry an acorn and cross your fingers anyway.

The registration for RDH Event is, as the article says, free (there’s a fee for some of the courses). You ought to check it out, as I will be doing on Oct-ober 19 and 20.

Speaking of trade shows, I should explain pages 114-151 of this issue. Quite a few dental hygienists accompany their employers to the American Dental Association’s annual session (in San Francisco on Sept. 27-30 this year). The “ADA Preview” section offers information about the hygiene-friendly companies exhibiting there.