Today I sat through a two-hour Zoom call where the talk was all about tech. Tech this and tech that. This new software tool, this new plug-in, this new application programming interface, this new way to use WeChat and TheyChat and WeAllChat – but be sure to sign up for the training so you know how to use the tool right away because everyone else will.
This toggle and this pane of glass and that messaging platform and that technology solution and this tech and here we go around the mulberry bush and mayors eat oats and doves eat oats and little lambs eat ivy.
And then the topics pivoted to user interfaces and seamless interfaces and authenticating identities and whether this tool works with that tool and, if not, why not, and interconnections and interoperability and what about the user experience and how long does it take for this app to download and can you do it on Chrome and what about on WeAllChat and why is the network down and why is the Internet so slow today?
I then started chatting with myself about what we were talking about and whether technology is the answer and ever was and whether it’s ever going to stop and why it never stops and why I’ve been having these same business conversations since 1991 when fiber optics and fiber optic couplers and fiber optic connectors and fiber optic networks and fiber to the curb and fiber to the home were the tech obsession of everybody’s lives.
Back then we chatted day and night about all that even before WeChat existed. Then there were the circuit boards the size of the Jack of Diamonds in a card deck that had crammed within them 1 trillion or so transistors which never seemed even possible but we took it on faith and I kept asking how that could be so and no one seemed interested in my question so we moved on, all the while acting as they understood it and I didn’t, and how come they had to go to meetings with people like me who weren’t electrical engineers.
Mounds and mounds of technological advancements mostly incremental or microscopic and tiny and irrelevant, tracking it all, talking it all through on WeChat and Slack and Teams about all igloos of incrementalism moving at a glacial pace but always a race to cram it all into a smaller space.
None of this ever really popped into my head as something that made sense because there was too much of it, it kept changing, and it was complicated and not explained in simple terms. Picture a technology junkyard in Tempe, Arizona packed with mangled, rusted, and unkempt transistors and fiber optic strands each the width of a human hair.
Gobs and gobs of bits and kernels and algorithms and broadband pipes to NowhereChat.
Then it occurred to me — 17 years into this technological odyssey — that all of it was only really about one thing: speed. No one ever simplified it down to this for me because they assumed I already knew that – which I sure didn’t.
Faster fiber optics. Faster Internet downloads. Faster modems. Faster smartphone app downloads. And now with generative AI, faster answers to every question we could ever think of asking. And faster paranoia that we need to develop new skills, something we’ve had to do at an accelerating rate since day one being the editor of Fiber Optics News.
Learn complicated technologies faster. Figure out what those are faster. Pivot to a new hot tech faster. Or get marginalized faster.
I’ve spent my entire career communicating about and thinking about, and wondering about, and going to Silicon Valley about, information moving faster, people moving faster, life moving faster.
But to what end?
We got faster. But are we smarter? Are we happier? Or are we just more mentally worn down? Did all this technological speed fulfill our basic human needs?
And so immediately I’m now setting up a WeChat on Zoom and talking about what software we need to make everything go faster and faster and faster.
The technology train is, once again, leaving the station and doesn’t care if you’re on it or not.
It never has.
And it never will.
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:
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