Just when you think everything is figured out, a technological breakthrough has the ability to disrupt everything. From KMart to Amazon, to energy generation and storage (which I cover a lot in this blog), the impact of technological breakthroughs on our daily lives is constant. Being able to read trends and adapt to the changes is what separates most companies from oblivion and success.
Think of how; penicillin, steel, combustion engines, radio/TV/Internet, gunpowder, printing, the personal computer and so many other technilogical advancements have changed the world.
In 1998, author and media critic Neil Postman gave a talk he called Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change. Here are the five ideas Postman shared that day, which are all still highly relevant today:
1. All technological change is a trade-off. For every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage.
2. The advantages and disadvantages of new technologies are never distributed evenly among the population. This means that every new technology benefits some and harms others.
3. Embedded in every technology there is a powerful idea, sometimes two or three powerful ideas. Every technology has a philosophy which is given expression in how the technology makes people use their minds, in what it makes us do with our bodies, in how it codifies the world, in which of our senses it amplifies, in which of our emotional and intellectual tendencies it disregards.
4. Technological change is not additive; it is ecological. The consequences of technological change are always vast, often unpredictable and largely irreversible.
5. Media tend to become mythic. Cars, planes, TV, movies, newspapers — they have achieved mythic status because they are perceived as gifts of nature, not as artifacts produced in a specific political and historical context.
What can we expect over the next 110 years?