Everyone knows we live in a rapidly changing world in which technology is growing by leaps and bounds. While this is certainly not a false statement, it may not be quite as true as you might think.
“Look at the way telephone technology has evolved over the past 150 years. We’ve added new features, like cellular data and VoIP calling, but the underlying infrastructure is in some ways much the same,” writes Tech Trends columnist Marina London, web editor with the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA). “Your fancy iPhone still has a touch-pad dialer for connecting you to the telephone network, and the dialer is basically a digital representation of something that has existed since the 1960s,” she adds. (London’s column appears in EAPA’s quarterly magazine, the Journal of Employee Assistance. She also writes a blog at: http://iwebu.info.)
I would like to point out a few other examples:
* Computer keyboards use the same lettering and numbering sequences that manual and electronic typewriters did decades ago. If you’re old enough to have learned “typing” in high school like I did (They call it “keyboarding” today), and mastered the “home row” especially, you’re still typing pretty much like you did in the 1970s or ‘80s.
* While undoubtedly a big improvement, the basic function of cell phones – talking to people while in transit in our vehicles – isn’t really all that different from the CB (Citizens Band) radios that some of us had in our cars in high school. The private usage was an offshoot of how popular they were with truckers at the time. Maybe truckers still have them. I wouldn’t doubt it if they did. “Breaker 1-9, I’ve got a Smokey up ahead.” “10-4, copy that.” Sorry, couldn’t resist.
* Or think about some of the posts that are supposed to “call you to action” that you probably see on Facebook, such as: “Forward this along to 10 people and good luck will come your way” or… “You’ll share this if you love your sister.” It dawned on me recently that these messages are pretty similar to the mass emails that used to “make the rounds” on the Internet. The only thing that’s changed is the platform!
These are just a few examples. I’m sure I could think of scores of others. What’s the point you say? The crux of the matter is that in many instances technology remains a means to an end, but it isn’t the “end result.” Or at least it shouldn’t be thought of that way. London points out that, “The basic protocol on which the Internet is based is over 40 years old. So if you’re waiting for a transformative change in how we consume information online, you could be waiting a long time.”
So why do so many people wait overnight for – let’s say, the latest Apple gadget – only to have a newer one to replace it a few years later? Guess I don’t get it. If that makes me “old” I won’t argue.
In conclusion, whether it’s a CB radio, cell phone, typewriter, PC, laptop, tablet, or something else, it seems to me that they are all tools – and whatever the gadget – the tool should be serving us, and not techno-addicts serving the tool. After all, some of these “doo-dads” will be here today, gone tomorrow. And what’s really important will be here to stay anyway.