Technology is a wonderful thing

May 10


Tristram Whitney

Tristram Whitney

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We are surrounded my amazing technological devices which we completely take for granted. Maybe it is time to rediscover our sense of wonder in the digital world.

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You would have been burned at the stake as a witch (or wizard) for owning technology we take for granted as recently as 20 years ago.


Many people alive today can remember when computers filled whole rooms,Technology is a wonderful thing Articles with whirling reels of tape and great banks of lights. Now a teenager sitting on a bus listening to his touchscreen mp3 player is more likely to think such a thing was science fiction rather than science fact.


When was the last time you looked at something like a laptop or mobile phone and actually considered what a miracle of science it is? In something I can carry in my pocket I can store thousands of albums, the noise of thousands of musicians playing away in a studio transformed into a portable piece of metal and plastic. If that’s not miraculous I don’t know what is.


And imagine walking into one of the establishments privileged enough to have a computer in the Seventies and opening up a laptop, which starts silently in seconds and can store words, pictures and videos at the click of a button.


Never in human history has technological development progressed so quickly over such a short period. At the turn of the century there was almost no point buying a PC or laptop because it would be rendered virtually redundant within a couple of months.


If you are older than 25 you may well remember computer games being little more than a pixellated character running around a static screen collecting and avoiding various other coloured pixels. I remember the absolute awe when I first saw a character moving through a scrolling environment. Yet now you can explore whole virtual worlds, create realistic looking characters and even live a whole second life online.


But is the virtual boom slowing? The profusion of new products such as smartphones or touchscreen devices would suggest not. Making things smaller may not be the new goal (if you make some devices much smaller people will need microscopes to operate them) but instead connectivity is the new name of the game.


Imagine a laptop which you could use for all the usual computer things such, as text editing and internet browsing, but which you can also use to make calls, watch television and cook a meal. In fact you don’t have to imagine, they have those. Okay, I admit not the cooking a meal bit, but the rest, and I bet you’re not even that surprised or impressed.


We have lost the awe which even a younger version of ourselves would show for modern technology developments, which has in turn led us to take a lot of them for granted. Millions of internet users can remember the days when websites would load pictures at a speed so slow you suspected there was someone inside your (huge) monitor actually painting it onto the screen. Yet now these same users will sniff and grumble if a page doesn’t flash up the millisecond a link is clicked.


I know we’re still progressing quickly and this may indeed be a golden age of technology, but let’s not forget how it started and remember that, whether good or bad, it is a truly remarkable thing.

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