I am going to use random analogies and parallels to convince you that the progression of technology is much like a river. There are rapids to navigate, waterfalls to avoid, and beautiful scenic routes to enjoy. However, for all of us rivers are critical to delivering energy, efficiency, transport and so much else to the communities that use them. Technology is just the same, but read the blog series if you don’t believe me.
A new revolution?
Much like with the agricultural and industrial revolutions a number of incremental improvements in technology are eventually going to add up to one massive change. Every time massive change occurs an equal and opposite force is created by those that will be affected by that change. This is understandable as those individuals have developed skills and optimised themselves to be successful and are now worried that the new technology has been designed to replace them. In some ways this is true but, like with previous technological revolutions, when one door closes another opens. You may no longer be required to do one task, but there is a whole bunch of other tasks that now need your input because of this new technology. This is particularly true for medium- and high-tech sectors.
Also like other revolutions change isn’t going to happen overnight, it can often take 20-30 years.
Having a background in Biological sciences I find it easy to make parallels between man-made creations and nature. Communication is one of these parallels, it is the core component to living things and technology.
Communication can be categorised into being two types; internal and external. Transmission of electrical signals traveling between physically connected components in the body (the nervous system) act as our method of internal communication, and when required those electrical signals trigger an external communication via sound waves that deliver a sound to another (not physically connected) organism. Technology works in a very similar way; internal communication through devices physically connected (e.g. LAN / ADSL); and external communication through sound waves between devices and hubs that are not physically connected (e.g. WiFi / Mobile). Like with the evolution of living organisms, internal communication existed before external communication.
Communication being core to so much of what we do I am citing it as the source. And so the first most important moment in the progression of technology is global ‘internal communication’ via phone lines in the 90’s that made weird noises and caused many family feuds when one member decided to interrupt another’s foray into the unknown by making a phone call to their parent to see how their week had been. Pretty unimpressive I know, but I have become fairly comfortable with unimpressive beginnings having spent an hour watching Top Gear (old Top Gear) searching for the source of Nile only to find a tiny dribble of water barely flowing from a rocky outcrop.
The point I am trying to make is that for a number of years we have been dipping our toes into dribbles of water and shallow streams, using the internet to share our lives with one another, watching pointless videos, and buying things we decided we must have after a few to many pints in the pub. That is now changing, yes we still do those things but we are also starting to use the internet to access more important data that we use for teaching and learning, and for our businesses to run.
We are now working our way downstream towards faster larger expanses of water, or in the case of technology starting to utilise faster, more reliable broadband.
About the author
Ian has been a network solutions product manager for over 2 years having joined RM 5 years prior. His passion for helping others to understand technology in an uncomplicated and easy to consume way is driven by his own experience of having to navigate the world of new technologies. Focused on delivering solutions that have a real positive impact to those that use them Ian spends his time separating the fads from the game changers, particularly prevalent when it comes to cloud technologies.
Part 2 of series : The progression of technology - Navigating the rapids