Keeping the past in perspective for the future
Mark McDonald, Managing Editor, Emeritus
April 25, 2012
Filed under Opinion
For the past two years, I’ve written this column for the Torch. Every now and then, I’ve even managed to hand it in on time. Over the course of these two years, and indeed, my entire college career, the world of technology has changed drastically.
Social media has continued to grow, streaming video has taken off, Google is planning a set of web-enabled “glasses,” 3D printing has begun to take off and the mobile market has become one of the most coveted markets in the entire tech sector.
Yet, despite all of these shifts, the motivation has remained the same. We don’t develop new technology just to find new ways to play Angry Birds. We do so to push ourselves, to reach new heights, to boldly go where no one has gone before.
That’s the amazing thing about technology; it isn’t an end. Instead, it is a means; a means to seek out new ideas, to explore new concepts, to better ourselves and, in turn, the world.
I’ve used an iPhone for the past four years and over that time, it has improved dramatically. In addition, consumer demand for smartphones has increased. The overall mobile marketplace has grown to an enormous size, and as consumers demand faster, thinner and more powerful devices, companies have worked to meet those demands.
However, this new trend is a little scary. Technology is becoming less about revolution and more about evolution. As consumer culture continues to refine its demands, a tidal wave of complacency threatens to sweep across the entire tech industry.
As great as it is to have all of these impressive devices right in the palms of our hands, it is not the peak of what technology can and should be.
Instead of all of the excitement surrounding the latest tweaks to existing platforms, we should be focused on entirely new developments. In the grand scheme of things, the latest smartphone will barely be remembered in just a few years. On the other hand, Virgin Galactic’s first trip into space, the development of the 3D printer and whatever else people can dream up could be landmark developments that go down in history.
It’s easy to get caught up in the latest fads, especially when it comes to technology. The industry has thrived on quick upgrades, dedicated consumers and the desire to have the latest and greatest piece of hardware.
Instead of getting too caught up in a cycle of repetitive products, we need to expect more, demand more and create more. The new heights that we wish to reach will not be scaled by those who get caught in ideas and thoughts of the past and present, but in the unproven designs that challenge current standards.
After a lifetime of fascination with technology and the ways that it can benefit the world, it’s my hope that we do not fall into the trap of complacency. It’s easy to blame companies for being complacent, but it isn’t always so easy to see that we may be the ones to blame.
If we want companies to push forward with new ideas, we must push them to do so. The future is littered with possibilities, if only we allow ourselves to see them.
Until that future arrives, keep shooting for the moon. Even if we don’t quite make it, we might just land among the stars.