Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Speed of Change

Straighten Up And Fly Wright

Many times it’s the speed of change that causes technology to be disruptive. During the life span of Charles Ingalls the world got a lot smaller with the spread of rail roads and the invention of the telegraph and later telephone. But that change took an entire lifetime. This was certainly faster than previous ages when disruptive changes took place over centuries, but still slow enough to be manageable. Now think of the pace of change since his death. A few years after he died the first airplane flies. Nearly 40 years later atomic bombs are destroying entire cities. Another 30 years later man is walking on the moon. Now compare even that rapid change to the mind blowing changes of the last 10-20 years. Cloning, the human genome is mapped, the internet becomes a ubiquitous fixture in every home and business, cyber infinitum.

The exponential rate of change has made it difficult if not impossible to keep up with. Indeed it seems almost impossible to make any long term plans because everything changes in just a few years. For me the rate of change in computer technology makes it very difficult to keep my skills up to date. At this point I am beginning to doubt the value of any official education or even certifications. By the time someone leaves school with his CS degree the technology has moved on. For society as a whole it is likewise bewildering. Parents and children are having to deal with previously unknown challenges and dangers such as cyber bullying and sexting. Lawmakers are struggling to catch up with new ways of conduction business or committing crimes. There simply isn’t enough time to assimilate to the change or even to perceive its effects. Before you even understand what’s happening you are suffering the consequences.

Technology has made life too complicated. Too filled with having to watch your back and protect yourself from new ways of being scammed. Too burdened with having to filter out what's really important from all the noise. That uncertainty and the anxiety it creates is why I would trade all these gadgets and conveniences for a little house on the prairie. 

For more about the pace of technology check out this article: Is Technology Moving Too Fast?

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