Technological Advances?

The year was 1988, and we were setting up our first fax machine. “Do you think we will use it?” asked my Mom. As I set the thermal paper roll in place, I assured her that this new “cutting edge” technology would be a big help. It would allow us to:

  • Set up new carriers in minutes
  • Confirm spot rates in writing
  • Receive lists of available trucks (a precursor to internet load boards)
  • Get lots of vacation package offers and discover long lost relatives leaving us claims to diamond mines in Nigeria (Who knew?)

Never mind that the thermal paper would start to fade in a few months and become illegible soon thereafter; we were moving forward! We had bought our first computer about 6 months earlier. It sat in the corner of the office all day – green cursor blinking on a black screen. We recorded all of our work on paper and then typed it into the computer at the end of the night.

Wow, has the world changed! As I write this while sitting in front of 3 adjacent computer monitors, I wonder how I could have functioned with only 2 or (shudder) just one! Most of my computing is now cloud-based and I doubt I will even own a server 5 years from now. Meanwhile, Social Media is exploding, transforming both our personal and professional lives.

My 3-year-old navigates my iPhone like a pro; she watches DVDs in the car; and she reads ‘books’ on a Kindle. I can’t even imagine the technologies her generation will produce. Although I believe in embracing technology, sometimes I worry about what we sacrifice for all of this ‘advancement’. Are our relationships stronger? Have we gained more leisure time? Are we really more productive? Here are a few quotes that sum up my conflicting feelings:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. ~Arthur C. Clarke

It is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day’s toil of any human being. ~John Stuart Mill

If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger. ~ Frank Lloyd Wright

 Technology… the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it. ~Max Frisch

For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three. ~Alice Kahn

Don’t let technology put your life ‘on hold’ this weekend,