“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
— J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
I feel like, as IT people, we have forgotten some of the wonder of technology. Many of the capabilities we take for granted today would have been indistinguishable from magic 100 years ago, were in the realm of science fiction 50 years ago, and were just beginning to be imagined 10 years ago.
Our expectations have grown, and we pretend not to remember dial-up access (except when we think of Matthew Broderick in War Games) and laugh nervously at the thought of going back to DSL. Instead of focusing on the wonder that we can send a message halfway around the world seemingly instantaneously, that we can check inventory in a warehouse in China without leaving our desks, or that we can actually see the person we are FaceTiming with a la The Jetsons, we obsess that the Apple Watch battery lasts only 18 hours between charges or that the bandwidth of Wi-Fi on an airplane is not sufficient for streaming a movie.
Let’s take a step back as we wrap up another year, and put some of the wonder back into the (IT) holiday season. Here are some items I still want us to marvel at:
Rocket launches are cool. Watch Apollo 13 or Space Cowboys if you want a dose of coolness. If you want the truth, and can handle the truth, go to NASA.gov and see the real thing!
The power you have in your hand when you hold an iPhone or iPad is awesome. (It might also be awesome to have an Android- or Windows-based device, but that is for you alone to judge.) Download a new app to learn a new language, check airport delays, hail a ride, order a pizza, or some other thing you haven’t done.
Email (spam notwithstanding) is impressive. How many personal letters that were not holiday cards did you receive in the last week? How many do you think you’ll receive, other than late holiday cards, in the third week of January? Exactly. Now think about how many personal emails you’ll receive and send. Pretty impressive to be able to be in touch, huh?
Social media, including blogs, can be better than newspapers. How many of the items in today’s newspaper occurred today? Be amazed at the ability to communicate information, important and trivial, quickly. Be wary, however, that speed is not equal to truth, and be appropriately skeptical of what you read, regardless of the source.
Battery life is still a good excuse. Although it is no longer plausible to say that you have “unplugged” for the holidays, because so much of this technology is already mobile, we are not to the point of infinite battery life. So take the time, and make the excuse, to step back from the technology in your life and spend some time with the people in it. That is what I am off to do.