Dec 042013
vacuum tubes predated the computer chip and transistor

“We treated Bitcoin as a tech story but now it’s become a much more serious economic story,” said a radio show compere earlier today when discussing the digital currency.

One of the great frustrations of any technologist is the pigeon holing of tech stories – the real news is somewhere else while tech and science stories are treated as oddities, usually falling into a ‘mad professor’, ‘the internet ate my granny’ or ‘look at this cool gadget’ type pieces.

Defining the world we live in

In reality, technology defines the world in which we live. It’s tech that means you have running water in the morning, food in the supermarket and the electricity or gas to cook it with.

Many of us work in jobs that were unknown a hundred years ago and even in long established roles like farming technology has changed the workplace unrecognisably.

Even if you’re a blacksmith, coach carriage driver or papyrus paper maker untouched by the last century’s developments, all of those roles came about because of earlier advances in technology.

The modern hubris

Right now we seem to be falling for the hubris that we are exceptional – the first generation ever to have our lives changed by technology.

If technological change is the measure of a great generation then that title belongs to our great grandparents.

Those born at the beginning of last century in what we now call the developed world saw the rollout of mains electricity, telephones, the motor car, penicillin and the end of childhood mortality.

For those born in the 1890s who survived childhood, then two world wars, the Spanish Flu outbreak and the Great Depression, many lived to see a man walk on the moon. Something beyond imagination at the time of their birth.

It’s something we need to keep in perspective when we talk about today’s technological advances.

Which brings us back to ‘it’s only a tech story’ – it may well be that technology and science are discounted today because we now take the complex systems that underpin our comfortable first world lifestyles for granted.

In which case we should be paying more attention to those tech stories, as they are showing where future prosperity will come from.

  One Response to “It’s only technology”

  1. Yes, great piece. IT is either trivial or overwhelming – when it becomes an economic driver and an investment destination, then we might look at it differently.

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