Friday, 25 June 2010

The constant march of technology

I was discussing the issue of technological progress recently with a friend. I was also reading an article on the subject by another writer, and I thought I would throw my hat into the ring on the topic in earnest.

The question centred around whether or not technological progress could or would slow down, or even make a gradual return to a less progressive era.

My own thoughts on the subject were that this is not realistic, wanted or even possible. Like science, technology moves in only the one direction - forwards. We have seen many advancements in science including medicine, space exploration, nanotechnology, quantum physics, astrology and so on.

We can barely imagine a period of time where science has not advanced rapidly. This has been for several reasons including for the pursuit of knowledge or for the advancement of the species. As we learn more, so we want to ask more questions. It's as if the very act of discovery sets off a quest for knowledge.

The more we know, the more we want to know.

Technology is no different. It's exploration and advancement are pursued with equal vigour. If we look at where we are, and where we have been, it is startling how much progress we have made in so little time. From the first transistor based computers that could fill a room, to the modern microchip that fits into your latest gadget such as your mobile phone.

Technology moves at an almost frightening pace. It is ubiquitous, everywhere, all around us. We have technology in our TVs, microwaves, cars. We can't walk down our high street without being bombarded by WiFi, GPS and Bluetooth signals as they fly around the ether above our heads.

Because of its pervasive nature, it is impossible to pull it back, to return to a less sophisticated time. We all use technology every single day, whether we realise it or not. When we make a simple withdrawal of cash from a cashpoint, we are using technology to send that transaction instantly to your bank's central computer.

Children are raised on a diet of technology. My own seven year old daughter is already proficient at taking pictures on her own mobile phone. Teenagers communicate and connect frequently using social media and technology. They no of no other existence but that which includes technology.

The question though is of what benefit would that provide if we did? What justification is there for returning to such a period in our technological history. There isn't any.

So while we may not always see the benefit of the latest techno gadget, that does not mean that we can stop the technological revolution which is at full swing as we speak.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Defining yourself and other people

During a recent lunch time discussion with a work colleague (you know who you are) we got onto the subject of how some people seem to have an expectation of entitlement due to their hierarchical position at work. The higher up the work ladder you go, the more prevalent such a personality trait becomes. It was noted that in general (not just work related) there are people who expect (some might even say demand) those around them to obey their every request, very often irrespective of the hardship faced by the other person to do so.

My own reasoning on the matter was that these people define themselves by their job title. Because they may be higher up the work ladder than someone else, they therefore make the mistake that they are in some way superior to that person. They have turned into their job role, and cannot disassociate themselves from it. The more power and influence the role is bestowed with , the greater the frequency that you will see this behaviour.

There is nothing wrong in the least with being passionate about your work, doing the best you can and being industrious. These are obviously worthwhile traits and should be admired. However, a very clear line should be drawn between you and your job.

I am lucky to have a job that I am passionate about. I work developing software applications and building web sites. As part of that, I spend a lot of my time researching and investigating new and emerging technologies in an effort to keep on top of my game, and to keep my knowledge and skills up-to-date. So my job does not necessarily stop when I go home. I will often read technology related blogs, articles and magazines. Yet despite all this, my job does not define me as a person. I love what I do, and will talk at length about it with passion, but to say that it defines me would be completely wrong.

So if I don’t define myself by my job, then how do I define myself? Or more importantly, how do I define other people. I personally prefer to define someone by their personality traits. Are they kind, generous, caring, helpful, positive? For me, this is a far better way to define a person, because it tells you what they are really about. A job doesn’t do that. Many people may have jobs they dislike, or have worked their way up the career ladder through methods other than merit (if you know what I mean).

The things that define people (including myself) in my opinion are:

· their personal qualities (kindness, caring, empathy, intelligence, positivity)
· their friends (I believe you can tell a lot about someone by the friends they keep)
· their hobbies / interests (the things they enjoy doing for sheer pleasure)

Using the criteria here should give you a much better idea of what a person is about, than merely their job, even if they do define themselves by it.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Socially connected beings

I enjoy using social media for all sorts of different reasons, many of which I have described in previous articles, so I won’t repeat them here. I would like to pick up on the positive benefits of using social media to stay connected. Before I receive floods of complaints (chance would be a fine thing), I am not advocating replacing the more traditional means by which we stay connected. I am however stating that social media is a great complement to traditional social connections.

I have been using Twitter and Facebook for some time now, and connect with a huge variety of people from across the globe, from all manner of backgrounds, ethnic backgrounds, countries and so on. This brings me closer to people who I would perhaps not normally get to connect with using more traditional methods.

Connecting with people who may be geographically distant, or have a different background to you can be invigorating. I personally don’t see it as a problem connecting with people whom I may never actually meet. That doesn’t stop me sharing opinions and points of view with them.

Of course, not everyone uses social media in this way. Most teenagers spend their time using social media to connect with the very same people they have just moments ago been speaking to at the school gate. I am always keen to connect with people I know in person, as well as those I may never meet too. This can make for interesting discussions, open your eyes and mind to different points of view, and provide some much needed colour in your attitude and perspective.

I have connected and shared opinions and points of view with some absolutely fantastic people using social media. Long may it continue!