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The Beauty of the Dawn

January 23, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

There is a certain amount of gleaming optimism when one reflects and sees a dawning technological age. Of the previous generations, only a selection have been fortunate enough to participate in an era where new technology was gaining popular traction. As extensive use expands a series of evolutions occur wherein the relationship between tech and user mesh to improve the functions of both. In a sense, as we expand our use of a device it is tweaked to meet our needs just as we adjust how we use the device to take advantage of what it provides.

This process of “shared evolution” between user and device is short lived. Gradually the device is replaced by a new device that better meets user needs. Typically a designer has considered the old device and created a new device in response to needed features. When a designer travels back to the drawing board a ticking clock of death initiates for the old design: new designs beget new tech and a major adjustment of public use. The public has no need for legacy with technology, in a system of pure utility a device’s use begins and ends on the basis of public interest.

We see this process of evolution in the devices of the past. Consider the telegraph and the telephone whose initial appearance instigated a revolution in communication. With popularity comes the beautiful cycle of symbiosis where increased capital allows a manufacturer to improve a product and draw in even more users. Greater use provides additional capital and the opportunity to reinvest for the benefit of both creator and user.

This state gradually breaks down as new technology is developed. Eventually a new device will pull away an increasing number of users and lead to a reduction in capital. Eventually the costs of improvement outweigh profits and technology becomes stagnant. The period of evolution ceases and technology enters a state of endless stagnation where evolution comes only in the areas of use within the previously established form. We see this with the telephone where the actual hardware of the phone has not lead to major improvements and the only real changes to the technology come in the form of new uses or improved services already in existence.

As the internet begins to blossom we see a sense of optimism I can only assume was present in the previous technological developments. Suddenly a new set of activities emerges that drastically alters the way we function in society. Yes there are pitfalls, categorically constant concerns of privacy loss and social breakdown being common forms in all developments, but in general terms new tech gains public traction only when it benefits society. Here again we see primary evidence of quality developments: if it’s popular than society has found a use for it.

New tech isn’t always good tech but in terms of social development these developments help to broaden our perspectives on who we are. New tech often assists us in communication by helping us communicate more efficiently and establish bonds that would be impossible if the technology didn’t exist. As we gradually work down the cost of communication via technological innovation we are expanding human connectedness on multiple fronts and formats. Even if a technological device poses great danger to a naive user there exists a swarm of social benefits that outweigh these dangers. More importantly, technological development’s improvement of social networking demands not only expanded use but expanded education to all citizens so that inherent risks can be avoided.

We exist in a new community of users with technology. As the dawning era of the internet takes shape we need to recognize the great potential that our new medium possesses. Unlike the telephone or television, whose primary eras of development have waned, the internet provides us with great opportunities to shape future use. We should focus on crafting the network that best suits society and prepare all citizens for extensive use. We are a community of users who as a society of technological users face great challenges and possibilities in the years ahead.

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