Archived Story

Effects of technology: I Tink I T

Published 4:26pm Friday, December 17, 2010

My son-in-law Brett and family friend Jeff-ro both have a lot of expertise in electronic technology.

Brett is the web master for a group that monitors and supports several social service non-profit companies. He is constantly maintaining a large computer network solving problems, constructing innovations to the existing system and educating staff about the uses of the system. Jeff-ro works for a large imaging company as a service technician maintaining hardware, solving and fixing problems related to scanning, printing and networking. Recently the three of us discussed the pros and cons of changes that technology is foisting on America. These changes are commonplace to younger generations. In the future some parts of the culture that are ordinary and taken for granted by my generation will be distant memories, even unknown to them.

Brett and Jeff-ro have allowed me to be able to function (however marginally) in the burgeoning world of technology. When I get stuck or somehow make a mess of my computer, I call one or the other and he either talks me through the solution or (more frequently) comes by and fixes the problem for me. In this regard, I am truly blessed.

The reaches of technology seem to expand at an ever more rapid pace. The conveniences technology offers come at a price, however a certain amount of risk, and the loss of traditional social/cultural icons that are being replaced. The risk element has been dramatically exposed in recent days when hackers, believed to have been associated with the Wikileaks organization, were able to shut down access to two major credit card companies (Visa and Master Card) for several hours. That capability suggests the scary possibility that the entire economy could be jeopardized by a single individual.

Another risk that deserves attention is the loss of privacy. Like the tracking of in-store credit card purchases, on-line shopping subjects the user to cookies from individual purchasing centers that track buyer habits. The trackers can then target individuals with unwanted advertising, or can make public other identifying information. Such information is also often sold.

Predictions are that soon writing a check will be so obsolete that they (checks) will disappear altogether. The Payments Council in Britain has decided checks will be phased out by November 2018.

Another loss to the public is the popularity of the daily newspaper. Recent surveys suggest young people aged 18 to 34 are most likely getting their daily news from either TV (37 percent) or the Internet (44 percent). These numbers largely represent urban centers, though small market papers are beginning to feel the stress also. Newspapers may not completely disappear, but the number of dailies will continue to shrink for the foreseeable future.

Another loss that provokes agony among many older Americans is related to printed books. The popularity of the Kindle, and more recently the iPad, has sparked a dramatic rise in electronic literature.

Amazon reports that in November 2010 the sale of e-books outdistanced printed hardback versions by 180 to 100. Profit margins for e-books are much higher than for printed books. Again, books arent likely to disappear, but the impact for the publishing world is great and will grow. The impact on the printing industry will be even greater.

The meteoric rise of cell phone technology endangers the home phone land line. The young family in America, more and more, relies on cell phones each family member can have his/her personal communication device at a lower cost than land line phones. The down side is I cant call one central number and talk to everyone in the household.

How we see and purchase music will also be dramatically effected by technology. Already music downloaded from the Internet is accounting for about half the sales of CDs in America. More and more concerts are now being offered via the Internet increasing ticket sales and providing listeners with a hassle-free experience. I dont think the Internet version compares to seeing concerts live, but the money for artists and promoters is certainly much larger.

All these changes offer the consumer breaks in terms of convenience, additional exciting capabilities and price.

There are serious negative effects also in addition to those discussed above. For example, the downsizing of the newspaper industry and the popularity of e-books will effect the production of particular kinds of paper products, the loss of job opportunities for laborers in plants, as well as the timber industry. There will be fewer jobs for journalists, and the quality of news available to the public will suffer.&bsp;&bsp;&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;

There can be no doubt technology is altering life in America. The change will have both positive and negative aspects. We should recognize it and prepare for it.

I think I see it.

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