Technology and Tempo

In my grandfathers day the rate of technologial advances meant that he probably had to name and understand the world just once. Our parents had to go through the process twice as we went from mechanical to electronic understanding.

But now, the pace of change is far more dramatic. Just as soon as we grasp the naming and implications of a technology, the advances are so rapid, that we constantly fall behind. We laugh at those who are still learning how to program the VCR, but explain to me how one keeps up with the leading edge of phone/video technology with new models with new features coming out every week or so? What is the mechanism for learning about and understanding each new technological advance as they occur?

We’ve already seen that people simply weren’t (aren’t) prepared for some of the things possible on the internet. Some good, and a lot of bad things can happen without our even thinking about or understanding what is happening or worse yet what just happened.

The question that arises is, how do we keep pace with the advances and actually know what is happening (to us)?

JT

I am 46 and I am so far behind the technology
curve, I could be a cave man compared
to some of these kids running around here.
I don’t think I can ever catch up given the speed
of the new stuff going on. My birthday is coming up
and I ask for a ipod. Given I have never even seen
an Ipod before, it should be interesting. The next wave
will leave me even further behind then before, but what
the hell.

Kropotkin

I think that the mechanism to learn and understand the new technology is merely the fact that it means to be easier each time. For instance, 1995 web designers had to craft their products by writting every single code, therefore they used to be experts or at least people with certain grasp. Nowadays virtually any amateur user can create a beautiful web with Dream Weaver or something, of course that top sites ought to be made by more experienced people but that’s another story… the fact is that everything gets more accessible step by step.

Of course quality gets sacrificed in most cases, but I think that’s the deal with modernism, in many aspects: you can notice that English language, for instance, gets grammathically simpler bit by bit as well. For old-fashioned speakers (me included), it’s somehow difficult to adjust to the motion but for upcoming generations it’s a “better” (for their standards) result.

JT,

It’s funny you should ask this question.

For all my conspiracy theory rants, and the different radical stories I’ve read from people like Alex Jones about government technology I sort of have to agree with the powers that be on this one.

I mean, most people can barely keep up with the way things are now; there’s no way we could implement all the different advanced technology the government has now. Things would just get chaotic and ridiculous. The present scenario operates by slowing down the production of new technology slightly and marketing/producing computer electronics that are ‘out of date’. In terms of an objective look at the world, they are, but these news products are still far enough ahead of the universal human capacity so as to seem to us as… exponential. Also, this technique stimulates the economy.

So I don’t think that things are moving too fast, I think that sort of goes without saying, I think things are being slowed down for us, and probably will be to this day. The public is too irresponsible to be on the leading edge, I suspect we will remain in a certain type of control for quite a while, and that could very well be a good thing.

We’ll always be together
However far it seems
We’ll always be together
Together in electric dreams

I forget the name of the law, but basically it states that the rate of technological increase is proportional to the amount of existing technology. We’ve had as many advances from 1950 to now as we did from the dawn of civilization to 1950. Not sure on my source, and not sure how valid it is . . . but the idea is interesting.

As to how we keep up with the advances? Specialize. It’s how you survive in science, it’s how modern man survives, and it’s only gonna get worse. And by worse, I mean more extreme.

It’s incorrect, the rate of technological increase is defined by much more than that. That isn’t to say that the amount of and dependance on existing technology isn’t a major factor, it just isn’t a mere issue of proportion…

Eventually we will reach a point whereby culture is accelerating so fast (not just moving, accelerating) that memory will be essentially defunct. I’ve been working on this theory for some years and I’ve amassed quite a lot of evidence that this will happen, and even drawn up policies to try to prevent it. No-one really gives a toss though, indicating that I’m perhaps already too late…

It’s widely documented that it would have been possible to produce full colour, widescreen, full sound movie in the early 1930s but that they staggered the technological developmental ‘release’ for 2 reasons

  1. They didn’t think that people would be able to go from small-scale, b/w, silent movies to the full glory of widescreen technicolor (with sound) in one movement and as such were fearful of crashing the industry before it had even got going
  2. they could make more money by staggering the release of the developments because every few years they could simply tack on another technological development they’d had lying around for ages if they needed to give the market a general boost

Of course this was back in the days when the same companies made the movies as showed them to the public, before Divorcement, which changed the whole landscape…

Just thought that someone with your interests would like to know this little snippet of history…

Thanks,

That’s interesting actually… the 30’s? wow.

Just try and imagine what is around right now… it really is hard.

Hello all,

Some interesting points of view…

Even though I spoke primarily about the technological changes, it is the social changes that bring consequences and our ability to first recognize, then understand, and finally internalize the changes brought about by those rapidly changing technologies. Obviously some are better at absorbing change than others, but I see a great deal of evidence that the general populace isn’t keeping up with the results of these changes, much less having there latest techno-weenie whiz bang. Is there an upper limit on how much technology a society can absorb before new technology simply becomes irrelevent? I understand planned obsolescence, that has been around as a marketing strategy for decades, but it seems to me the technolgical innovation has outstripped our capacity to ‘take it all in’.

JT