In my first article, Some Things to Ponder, part 1, I looked at some of the many benefits of today's modern technology, mostly smart devices. In the short time since then there have been many new developments including the new iPad 3, the fact that for the first time ever more mobile phones in the US are of the smart-phone variety than not, and a host of others.
But at what cost? As we rapidly continue in the Age of Information many questions arise. Here are but a few of these questions.
Three long-time friends are sitting at their favorite table for their monthly get together. It was arranged using Facebook or Twitter, and none of the three have heard the other's voice in the interim since their last get together. And none have written a letter by hand to anyone since they were 12. Even Santa Claus has accounts at both social media sites.
Our three friends, Adam, Bob and Charles, always find a way every year to take an exotic trip together. After a few minutes discussion they have settled on a trip to Uzbekistan. No one they know has ever been and it sounds like a great place to go to in early summer. Far out. Adam quickly pulls out his smartphone, Bob his tablet PC and Charles his smart device. Within minutes, Adam is reading the Wikipedia article about Uzbekistan (and listening to its National Anthem), Charles is on the Lufthansa website checking flight prices and Bob has downloaded a few pictures and a video. In another 5-10 years they will be able to smell the grilled meats of a typical dinner. Uzbekistan is not so exotic anymore.
After they have booked their flights the conversation turns to the best Rock-n-Roll band of all-time. Again, where is any subjective opinion? Their devices tell them about album sales, weeks at number one or opinion polls, but what does their gut say? Where is the feeling?
In the old days (some would say better days) people would get together and debate the finer points of life. Today there is little debate because everyone has access to all the information, making one's own knowledge a nearly mute point. And so what do we really learn?
Every restaurant has easily read reviews (some placed by the restaurants themselves). Our sense of direction and our ancient instinct to orienteer has been lost. Just pull up Google Maps and never get lost. Can we find our car without an app anymore?
And perhaps, and this we never know, each time we access a certain app or website information about us is being gathered. Where we go and when, what we buy and what we like. Who (or what) is watching us and where does it end?
Young people today say they prefer to communicate via SMS, rather than face-to-face. Job interviews on SKYPE, please, thank you very much. And HR departments in the future may have to acquiesce to their demands if they want the best talent.
As more and more people become connected employers will begin to feel that all of their employees should be able to be reached at any time. Sitting on a beach in the Caribbean? You have to take that call. I expect in the very near future many resorts that now tout their unlimited free Wi-Fi will in future crow about their being off the grid.
Much like drugs, sex, video games or TV, the basic question about all this technology will be boiled down to a most basic point. Having superior technology for work or leisure has its benefits. But being able to just turn it off, even for weeks at a time, will be the most needed and required skill for the foreseeable future.