Making Sense of Technology That Once Made No Sense


Making Sense of Technology That Once Made No Sense

Technology can be incredibly frustrating many times, but on the flip-side, it can also be pretty amazing. For the most part, we take certain technologies for granted in our everyday lives.  Whether used to connect, entertain or to keep us safe, there is no question that technology is all around us.  I occasionally talk to groups of people about the future of digital technologies and I often use the following scenario to illustrate how far we have come.

If you were to hear the following statement:

“During my flight, I connected to the plane’s Wi-Fi to stream my favorite TV show to my phone.”

You wouldn’t really think much about it. This sentence makes complete sense and there is really nothing wrong with it. Technology-wise, this is not only possible but something that is considered normal.

Now, if you are old enough, take yourself back 25 years. The year was 1993. Bill Clinton was the President, there were 7 Space Shuttle missions, Jurassic Park was wowing audiences on the big screen, Aerosmith was singing ‘Living on the Edge’ and Thursday night meant Seinfeld was on TV.

It’s hard to believe that the sentence I mentioned above, made absolutely no sense in 1993! In fact, if you were to have said those words, people may be thinking you are speaking a foreign language.

Technologically speaking, in 1993, we weren’t in the dark ages. We were regularly flying into space and computers were already mainstream, but there have been some pretty significant strides in the last 25 years.

Let me explain and break it down into greater detail.

Wi-Fi: Although the the first Wi-Fi standard came out in 1997, it really wasn’t finalized until 1999. Consumers being able to connect to the internet through Wi-Fi was just not possible in 1993, much less while on an airplane.

Streaming: The concept of streaming video didn’t really exist in 1993. Perhaps over a TV cable or satellite, but it wasn’t really called streaming. Back then, a stream was something that included water flowing.

Phones: The concept of a phone was very different in 1993. Cellphones were available, but they were expensive and if they had a screen, it was a rudimentary monochrome LCD. The concept of actually watching a video on a phone wasn’t possible but also wouldn’t have even made sense. In addition, watching a TV show was something that you do on a TV, not on a phone and to say otherwise would have been a crazy thing to say.

Coming back to that sentence again.

“During my flight, I connected to the plane’s Wi-Fi to stream my favorite TV show to my phone.”

We have a series of English words that when put together meant nothing in 1993, but today makes complete sense. That’s pretty amazing. Think of all the inventions, breakthroughs and the sequence of events that had to happen to be able to watch a TV show on your phone….while on an airplane flying 30,000 feet in the air!

The real dilemma is to think of what series of words that mean absolutely nothing today but will make complete sense 25 years from now. What new ways of thinking, learning, living will make up our reality? What wonderfully incredible technologies will be at our every disposal. What problems will be solved? What problems will be created? It truly is amazing and humbling to think of it.

We will continue to evolve technologically, there is no denying that. We can only hope that these technologies will bring an improvement to human existence, but I’m certain it will continue to be a wild ride.

I love to hear what people think of how they perceive the future, because it’s clear, that if we can imagine it, it probably can be possible.

Be good to each other.



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