Technology is Disruptive – And Empowering

“We’re in a technology revolution, not a tennis match. The last time I heard predictions like this was from the mouth of John Sculley, ex-CEO of Apple who made the prediction that Microsoft would be dead by 2000.”

This quote is from Michael Dell – founder and CEO of Dell Incorporated. It’s unfortunately too easy to draw comparisons between what people were saying about Microsoft in the ’90s – and what they are saying now about Google or Facebook or Apple or or Skype for that matter.

         “The last ten years have brought us more technological progress than we saw in the two hundred years before them,” says Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, professor at Oxford University. Some for good for the world – others, not so much. Some of us never had to rely on a landline telephone number again; some of us don’t even own a TV anymore, let alone owning or renting DVDs or Blu-Rays or any other physical media for that matter; some of us don’t use CDs anymore; most of us get our new music through iTunes instead of buying it in the store.

         Technology is Disruptive. Understanding this fact will help you understand why technology has become important in your life and how it will continue to play an increasingly larger role in everyone’s lives until it becomes one cohesive whole that we can’t live without just like electricity – one way or another.

         It’s no secret that Apple’s iPhone is many people’s favorite device. It’s not even a Blackberry, Android phone, Windows Mobile Device, or iPod Touch – it just works for them. And while Apple gets its fair share of criticism from professionals in the industry, consumers seem to love their products and don’t care about what the critics say until they get on stage with Steve Jobs at an Apple conference.

         What consumers do seem to care about our apps. They pay for them; they get them through iTunes; they get updated automatically without having to do anything extra on their end of things. It’s simple – it’s easy – you press download and then you’re done! Even applications that ‘look’ complicated are generally designed well enough for most users to be able to figure out what they do when you press the ‘About’ button.

         But it’s not just Apps that are making technology so popular these days, it’s applications – mobile or otherwise, social networks, and even search engines. It all fits in with the adage of “don’t give people what they need, give them what they want.”

This is where technology is going – and this is why we’re interested in technologies that make our lives easier. As a result, many of us can’t see a time in the near future where we don’t have a small data-enabled computer by our sides from the time we wake up until the time we go to bed at night. Why? Because it will be cheaper; it will be easier to use; it will do more for us. The only question is – how long until this happens?

And if you think about it, what’s happened with portable media players and cell phones in the past ten years already seems like a revolution to some people. They’ve gone from bulky to slim; they went from analog to digital; then they went from clunky interface design that took up half the screen real estate on a brick-like phone to gaining touchscreen functionality, faster processors, and much better connectivity across carrier networks. And now we’re asking – what’s next?

Enter Technology as a Disruptive Force

         Technology has been defined as “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.” In other words, technology is how we use science and engineering to solve problems – as the application of knowledge.

         This means that technologies can range from simply using a lever to lift something heavy over having a machine build some sort of tool or implement out of steel, plastic, and wood (or any other material) based on plans developed by an engineer and prototype built either by hand or more often today with computer-numerically controlled machines (known as CNC).

         While we think of technology as being increasingly high-tech, this isn’t necessarily always true. Sometimes simple things like adding two numbers together are considered “high-tech” if it’s done on a computer instead of with paper and pencil. But simplicity can be deceptive; for instance, adding two numbers or multiplying them comes to mind – but what about sorting things? What about search technologies like Google and Bing?

         The point is this: sometimes simple can be difficult. And in many cases, “high-tech” technology goes back to being high-tech after a few years when the next generation of it debuts on the market that does something else that was totally unexpected! It’s hard not to look at someone who lived during the development of early automobiles and think they were simply lucky to have lived in their time period since they got to experience how slow, loud and dangerous these devices could be when in reality it came from an era where people had never seen something move by using its own power before!

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