Friday Rant: Technology and the Efficacy of Change

Every generation ultimately laments technological progress and loves to reminisce about "the good old days" as we grow older. As the rate of technological change and innovation continues to grow exponentially -- accompanied by a human propensity to consume these "advances" -- we would be remiss to not stand back from time to time and assess its impact upon our everyday lives regardless of chronological age.

In terms of human history and development, everything changed with the invention of the telegraph and telephone (bare with me here). As a species, we evolved at a far slower pace in terms of daily interaction than we are today. Not only did we have tiny groups of individuals with whom we interacted face to face on a daily basis, travel took weeks, months and years as did our letters -- which comprise the majority of source material for our history. In short, we evolved having much more time to think.

Flash forward to 2009 and most of us feel like laggards if we don't respond to email, text messages or arcane voice mail within the hour if not sooner -- the one exception to this is paying A/R which mysteriously lags behind. Granted, we're an extremely adaptive lot, but I can't help but feel that we pay a price for having to respond more or less instantaneously to everything that comes across our virtual desks. To mix historical metaphors, the pace of technology is a perpetual case of the horse having the left the barn and we couldn't turn back the clock even if we wanted to.

What we can do -- while utilizing the vast and ubiquitous quantity of information that's available to our best advantage -- is not allow the medium to distort, short change or dictate our thought processes. Along these lines I love it when someone -- albeit all too rarely -- emails "Let me think about that and I'll get back". And if you're moved to respond similarly on occassion, printout some of your best communications on acid free paper while you're "thinking" and become part of the supply chain for future history.

William Busch

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