A Lifetime of Technology

The difference between what we can accomplish in sixty modern minutes and what we could do in an hour thirty years ago is astounding. In my lifetime alone I:

  • Watched as JFK made his speech about putting a man on the moon and remember that hot July evening when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon.
  • Remember Apollo 13 and how the world held a vigil.
  • retro telephoneRemember using a 300 baud Texas Instruments computer to “connect” to a database and being one of the first people to use a 1200 baud TI … the looks of envy I would get when I walked on an airplane!
  • Participated in the Fax machine craze! You could order your lunch via fax, then it became an essential tool when setting up an office, now, it’s all-in-one with the printer and the PC or you’ve ditched it totally and rely on the internet to share info.
  • Experienced the evolution of the telephone: from party lines with a basic black phone to color and style options (princess phone), to longer cords so you could move around more and then cordless telephones. Then came answering machines that connected to the telephone (the early ones actually had little cassette tapes) to built-in voice mail. Next came caller ID. And now, the younger generation has no idea what a land line is! Then there is Skype where you can talk and see the person that you are talking too!
  • Went to the library to do research to The New York Times abstract being on-line – leading edge moment – but you had to pay for it, to Google. Can you imagine life pre-Google?
  • Saw cameras develop (no pun intended): From a drop-in cartridge, to a disc cartridge both of which you had to take to a store to get developed to digital where you can download, print, email, share etc. all with a couple of keystrokes.
  • Marveled at the banking revolution: From tellers to ATMs to automatic deposit and bill paying.
  • Watched the change in written communication: The standard typewriter to the Selectric to PCs to Laptops to mobile devices.

According to Vince Poscente in his book The Age of Speed “Technology allows us to go faster and faster.  It is a great solution for increasing income and productivity, but those benefits are only one piece of the picture. The bigger advantage of all of this technology is that it should make time for meaningful experiences. Technology is not just the way to get more work done – it is the secret to having time to do what we want.”

At some point however, using technology to go faster and faster became tangled with being busy. That is part of the reason that we are struggling with doing faster and doing more. Going faster doesn’t necessarily mean working harder or getting more accomplished.

To get the full benefit of technology, we have to detach our perception of “fast” from the notion of “busy” and become more aware of what we want to do with the time we free up. If we speed up the drudgery in our lives with a purpose in mind, we’ll be more likely to fulfill that purpose and use technology as a tool for doing what we want to do, rather than doing more of “everything”.

How is technology serving you?  Do you have the time to do more of what you want to do or are you being busy doing more of everything?