Category Archives: Technology

The End of the Technology Revolution?

davinci1

 

I was talking with someone the other day about the end of the Technology Revolution and the beginning of the Entrepreneurial Revolution.

I took a bit of flak for saying the Technology Revolution was dead or dying. I was quickly informed that the Technology Revolution is the backbone of America’s economy today—and always will be.

To make matters worse, I wrote a post way back in mid-2011 about “Digital Fatigue,” where I inferred that more technological advances were made before the advent of the digital age, then has been made since then.

Then, I thought maybe I was missing something… until I recently read an article by Christopher Mims, Science and Technology correspondent for Quartz.

In his article, Mims stated, “… 2013 was an embarrassment for the entire tech industry… Not a single breakthrough product was unveiled… Innovation was replaced by financial engineering, mergers and acquisitions, and evasion of regulations.”

Following are some topic highlights from Mim’s article:

  • Mobile phones stagnated by becoming commodities and the only good thing to come from that is that they will get evermore less expensive.
  • Big tech companies continued their decline. Microsoft lost nearly a billion dollars on its new tablet, and a ruinous internal culture was revealed.
  • Intel has done little investing and their microprocessors are less profitable than ever.
  • Blackberry… well, everyone knows about Blackberry.
  • Hewlett-Packard has settled down to gracefully manage its own decline.
  • Technology’s ruling class has increased its arrogance.
  • Mergers and acquisitions replaced innovation.
  • Wearables fizzled out without making any sort of compelling case with consumers. (Well, Google Glass did manage to get banned from Casinos and now they can prepare for a tsunami of lawsuits for “invasion of privacy”.)
  • We became even more tired of social media than ever with the advent of obnoxious video ads.
  • The media managed to inflate the PR efforts of several companies that really had nothing new to offer.
  • Edward Snowden managed to put a chill on future technological shifts, and the real fallout for the tech industry has yet to unfold.

These are just some of the highlights of Christopher Mims article, and you can read his entire article here.

Of course, just like there has been constant changes and improvements in manufacturing since the end of the Industrial Revolution, so will there continue to be changes and improvements in the tech world.

But, when you stop to think about it, has there been any “real” revolution in the tech industry over the last few years? Or, have the tech folks just been massaging existing concepts and products?

So, I wonder… is this really the end of the Technology Revolution—or have we just seen a bit of a lull in the rate of new tech innovations? What do you think?

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The Digital Divide

About 100 million Americans are not connected to the Internet, and an additional 19 million who use the Internet are not connected to broadband.

This situation has prompted President Obama to create a new program for making broadband Internet service more accessible. The White House said, in part:

“Connecting the middle class to the benefits of the digital age is a critical piece of the President’s economic plan.”

Typical of a politician’s approach to problem solving, the White House apparently ignores the element of cost.

28% of those not connected say it is because of cost—the remainder says they “just aren’t interested.” Well, maybe they just aren’t interested in spending $50 per month on something they think they can live without.

Consider this:

Historical communications

The U.S.—birthplace of the Internet—provides poorer quality and more costly Internet service than most of the other Western nations.

In my area, 12 Mbps of broadband service alone costs over $50 per month—while residents in Hong Kong can get 500Mbps fiber service for $25 per month.

Moreover, the cost of broadband service continually increases—rather than becoming more affordable—thus further enlarging the “digital divide.”

In the U.S., the quality and cost of broadband service is such that the one-third of the population not connected to broadband today simply will not, or cannot afford to, subscribe to broadband.

A further divide of the haves and have-nots.

The problem is even greater in rural communities where most of their services are already in a budget crisis. Schools and libraries simply do not have the money available to connect to broadband.

For example, Massachusetts initiated a program to expand broadband service across the state … yet, a Library in a typical small town in Colrain, Mass. has fiber service running right past their door, but they are not connected to it because they simply cannot afford the $100 per month connection cost.

This situation is played out all across America.

Until the U.S. is able to provide low cost broadband service to broader areas, I’m afraid the current statistics for people disconnected from the Internet are just not going to get much better.

What do you think: is the cost, and poor quality, of broadband service in the U.S. too expensive for many people?

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Does Technology Ease Work?

81% of U.S. professionals say they work harder today than they did five years ago–because of technology. —Entrepreneur Magazine

I seem to recall that when the “computer age” hit the main stream we were told that our work would get much easier. Computers would do all the work; we would become a paperless society and the 30-hour (or less) workweek was just around the corner. What happened?

Well, if we take a look at the typical U.S. Professional’s inventory of time-consuming technology, would we find?

  • Multiple computers–at work and home (including a laptop they lug back and forth to work).
  • Backlogs of emails on their computers–much of it spam or just unnecessary.
  • Skype–with video, so they can see callers when they chat.
  • Several social media accounts on their computers, or iPhone, or Blackberry.
  • Multiple cell phones (at least one of which is an iPhone, Blackberry, or other media phone).
  • Backlogs of text messages.
  • MP3 players (at least 2)
  • Multiple televisions (at least one HD).
  • DVR’s.
  • DVD/VCR players (with all the associated media to catalog)
  • Wiis.
  • Video game players (and the required latest game).
  • Kindle, or other book reader.
  • Fax machine (they still seem to be a necessity).
  • Miscellaneous gadget accessories.
  • The next new gadget that comes along…

Then, of course, there is the whole social media gambit. This technological arena consumes more and more of a person’s time, and today much of it is business related, so now it is nearly impossible to know when this activity is necessary for work or just another meaningless demand on an already overloaded schedule.

Many of the technical gadgets allow their owners to use them like an extension of their office–ergo; their owners never “leave the office.” Consequently, it is difficult to tell whether a person is “working” at home or just interacting with more technical gadgets.

No wonder so many U.S. professionals work harder today than they did five years ago–technology has stolen part of their daily lives.

Does anyone relate to this situation?

Do You Have “Trigger Thumb”?

With all of the mini-keypad devices in our arsenal of technical gadgets, many users are experiencing a new form of tendonitis and joint disease currently referred to as “trigger thumb.” Loggers have experienced a similar problem for decades, as they aggravate their forefinger by operating the “trigger” on a chainsaw. Constant use of their forefinger results in a painful condition long known as “trigger finger.” I assume this is where the term “trigger thumb” came from.

Regardless of the origin of the term, “trigger thumb” is no laughing matter. It can develop into a very painful condition. More and more doctors are seeing patients with this condition. If the problem is not addressed early enough, it can develop into a degenerative condition with possible long-term disability.

So, how can we avoid “trigger thumb” and still get the benefits from our electronic gadgets? Here are some suggestions that a few of us might benefit from:

  • Determine how important each use is. Do you really need to have that text conversation with a friend while shopping in a store—or driving?
  • If you have to send a message, make it as short as possible. Don’t participate in long texting conversations.
  • When you start to feel any pain or discomfort, stop using your device and rest as long as possible.
  • If you already have a joint condition, like arthritis, don’t use your keypad any more than absolutely necessary.
  • When all else fails, see your doctor. They may prescribe anything from rest to surgery, but, hopefully, the problem can be corrected.
  • This last suggestion is the best of all—take a holiday! Put your devices in a drawer for a few days and do something out of the ordinary…like reading a book, going for long walks, or having face-to-face-conversations, and the like. This is not only good for your thumbs, but for your mind and your whole body as well.

I can’t imagine anyone giving up their electronic gadgets…we’ve come to rely on them too much…so we’ll just have to face the consequences. Maybe voice-recognition Blackberrys are just around the corner—of course that probably wouldn’t work while you’re texting during your boss’s staff meeting.