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Digital love 

Left: Contraction timer app • Right: Oliver's heartbeat on his birth day

Left: Contraction timer app • Right: Oliver's heartbeat on his birth day

When my wife, Stacy, took a digital pregnancy test late last year, I was the one who read the screen: "Pregnant," said the pixels. I immediately knew life had changed, and that—if I was going to be prepared for the pregnancy—technology had better play a pivotal role.

There are at least two categories of people when it comes to technology, I've long figured: those who embrace technology and work to take advantage of it and those who run, scared either of learning new tricks or the impact those new tricks might have. I've long fallen into the former classification, but when the news of baby Oliver's impending arrival came, I was lagging. We'd recently moved into a new home, and I didn't own a personal computer. I was fumbling between an iPod Touch in one pocket and a flip phone in the other. One made calls and sent text messages. The other kept my life organized in calendar, list and e-mail form. The pair worked for a while. The phone kept me in touch, and the iPod—with its programs designed to help pregnant parents prepare—allowed me to track the progress of the pregnancy and our appointments. I read the stack of fathering books beside my bed, but with those devices, I was a 21st-century father-to-be.

Just before Oliver was born, I finally made the switch, consolidating the two devices into a new iPhone. I could now capture the pregnancy and birth through text messages, photographs, Facebook status updates, tweets, stopwatches, sound recordings, statistical notes and most any other data you might imagine. I could put images of my son's heartbeat in my pocket. When Oliver was born, I could instantly send photographs to friends anywhere. I'd made the switch, moved with the flow of technology and—to my mind—served Oliver better for it.

Our son is now 2 months old. Digital documentation of his growth winds through various Internet accounts and digital devices like young vines. Oliver will not know a world without Internet. Rather, he'll grow up in a digitally vivid world. Why not embrace it? His photos are on blogs, various Facebook accounts, on Twitter. Stacy and I maintained a list of all the bands we saw during her pregnancy. We'll continue it with all the bands we'll take him to see. We've programmed iPods for his car rides and afternoon naps with CDs of white noise, Kiddie Records and music maybe he and his parents both like.

I often wonder what music will sound like in 30 years, when my son is my age. Will he be riding around in pyramid-shaped vehicles driven by robots that resemble Daft Punk? As utility computing becomes commonplace and mobile digital devices document our every move, will holograms, augmented and virtual reality replace what it means to be human? I have no clue, but if any of this happens, it shouldn't come as a surprise to a child born in 2009, especially our son. Don't get the wrong idea, though: He'll also know how to plant and harvest the garden growing in his backyard. We're not that digital, at least not yet.

  • If I was going to be prepared for the pregnancy, technology had better play a pivotal role.

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