As far as the career clock goes, 7 years is a mere tick of the second hand. Don’t blink or it will pass you by. Measure that same span through the rapid metabolic timeframe of technology and now you’re talking about an eternity.
Tech Talk is signing off this week, as your friendly neighborhood gadgetmeister is hitting the sleep button on the MacBook for the last time. Nothing shocking, nothing tragic as far as reasoning, just time for a new season. To follow the cycle of the 7-year-itch, I guess it’s time for a new harvest, which means I must plant my seed in new soil.
Thinking back to where we started this weekly conversation back in 2010 made me grow a few (more) gray hairs considering that iPads didn’t exist, notebooks were as bulky as the name suggests and smartphones were more about the phone than the smart. Steve Jobs still sat on the throne, as did Blackberry, as did point-and-shoot cameras. Can you say, “Dude, I’m getting a Dell?” We talked about cutting cords, smart toilets and the advent of autonomous driving. The smart home was still a concept as was 4K television, not to mention the Tesla. Facebook was for teens, blogs were the place to get the scoop and video games were for the living room. An entirely new language even formed as educated people began to speak in emoji.
Time sure does fly.
We grew from Gainesville to Ocala to a half-dozen other Florida papers. Tech Talk is currently available to more than 200 daily and weekly papers in the Gatehouse Media chain. It also gained a demographic: Not millennials, not nerds, but silver foxes. I’ve been invited to senior centers, Kiwanis Clubs and bingo buffets. That might have something to do with the primary delivery mechanism, the print edition. It’s sort of ironic that the same tech-centric subjects I pour into the paper have slowly taken from it. The hunger for information has never been higher yet the desire to fund it has never been lower. Certainly not worth fretting over because the first rule of technology is you cannot stop it.
They say the past is just prep for the future. In technology, you’ll get lapped while looking in the rearview. Technology is more than just iPhones and televisions; it’s more than just Black Friday and Christmas morning. Devices might only develop at an evolutionary pace, that’s just to insure max profit, but the rate technology is taking over every facet of your life is revolutionary. Just today I read an article about the trend of teens ditching the chump change of mowing lawns for the riches of repairing smartphones as their summer jobs. When you consider the future role of technology there is really no area it won’t touch. Fitbit step-counting will eventually give way to devices that analyze your sweat, saliva and other fluids and instantly detect abnormalities and accurately prescribe a treatment. I’m sticking to my prior prediction that your children’s children will never drive a car. At the rate self-driving is advancing, the day is drawing near where technology can promise an end to traffic fatalities if human driving is outlawed. Why wouldn’t you?
Thanks to Amazon our malls are becoming indigent. Founder Jeff Bezos is close to passing Bill Gates as the world’s richest person while at the same time Sears is failing, Macy’s is failing, food courts are emptying. Why spend the day shopping when Alexa will instantly order it for you? For that matter, why schlep it to Whole Foods when the Prime Air will deliver it by drone? We really are on the cusp of a robot revolution, as drones go from delivery to halftime shows to fighting fires and managing farms, while humanoid robots prepare to take over both the battlefield and the honey-do list.
We all have our gripes with social media — the mindless minutia and the brainless banter, but awareness has brought change and it’s bringing justice. The world is different and arguably better because of social media. I question if social will be our big-pants media of the future? There’s no arguing the reach but can it be trusted as the watchdog? Can it afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted? Can truth rise above mass opinion? Do you trust your timeline as the fourth rail of government over print, radio and television?
This conversation could go on and on but I’ll leave it where this all started, and that’s the smartphone. If there was a Big Bang that sparked this expanding-tech universe, it’s the iPhone. We’re talking about a limitless device that has revolutionized everything from computing to photography to entertainment. Where’s it going? Something flexible, foldable, wearable and implantable. If you don’t know what virtual reality and augmented reality are, you better ask Siri because it’s the wave cresting on the horizon. 5G connectivity is gonna make 4G feel like the soapbox derby and somewhere out of that speed and form and function will be new possibilities that will continue to push our lives, culture and yes, conversations, into the future.