(This starts off odd, but stick with me, it ends well)
When I embarked on rebooting my career I knew I’d be leaving behind over 15 years of experience. That’s a lot of information and knowledge to leave behind as a frightening chunk just wasn’t relevant to being a programmer. I had to come up with a way to recapture a huge reservoir of knowledge so I’d be worth something more than a shiny, new college degree. I began listening to tech podcasts. What started out as a few hours here and there grew to 11 podcasts consisting of over 20 hours of audio a week (hurray for a long commute). Into that mix I tossed a dozen or so tech/science websites I read per day and three tech/science magazines.
That’s what it takes to stay informed in an incredibly fast-paced industry – and I say its been worth the effort.
One thing I’ve noticed over the past three years is the quickening convergence of tech into everyday life. It’s radically altering how people interact, more so now than ever before. For example, most everyone I know is on Facebook. A large chunk of those people are checking it and updating it not only several times a day – but several times an hour. That’s a radical change in social behavior, especially when you frame it against those same people basically going from a ‘null’ interaction before to what now amounts to a constant awareness of what their connections are up to. Twitter, which was once the playground of only the techiest of geeks is now a major communication device for everyone from movie stars to protesters in Iran.
One of the podcasts I listen to, This Week In Google (TWIG) went on a bit of a tangent this week. Instead of burrowing down into the detail of cloud computing and the latest Google services, they took a top-down look at where things like social networking, information, privacy, and tech was headed. In all, it was a little bit shocking and exciting, even for someone who listens to this stuff on a daily basis.
The short take on it is we are at a major turning point in how society make use of technology – a radical departure from even a year ago. Moreover this isn’t the technophiles and geeks of society – this is the everyday Joe being able to access and process information at a level unknown to them previously.
The podcast was an interesting game of connect-the-dots of things Google has been up to that, if left unfettered by government action, could crush existing paradigms like Telcos (AT&T, Verizon), Cable (Comcast), and even print media.
This possibility puts the actions of the Swedish government, recently saying that broadband access was now a basic human right, into a new light. Think about it like this: with internet access you can make free phone calls, post job resumes to thousands of employers at once, access information about anything and everything including strangers you see on the street, at a party, or at work, start a company and make a living, store your own data, access entertainment, socially connect and interact with family and friends.
Without internet access – and without the outmoded business models of the existing telcos, cable companies, printing industry, and even the United States Postal Service you are cut-off. Now you might be saying to yourself, “But that can’t happen,” but it can, and it could happen in the span of a few months.
The concept stands to send a few people into panic. It’s certainly a lot of rapid change – and that is inherently scary to many people.
That’s why it’s worth your time to check out this episode of TWIG. As G.I. Joe would say, “Knowing is half the battle!” Understanding just how on the cusp we are of a techno-revolution, of the massive lobbying battle that will no doubt take place by the telcos, cable companies and others to stop it (because they want to keep making money at the expense of progress) – knowing how to land on both feet and take advantage of the resources that are getting ready to be tossed our way is a good thing.
You can download TWIG episode 21 for your mp3 player or listen to it here.
There will be a full video of it on YouTube in a few more days, I suspect (only episode 20 is up right now) Video now linked below.
This is some seriously wild shit and you owe it to yourself to check it out! We’re not talking about Disney’s vision of the future 50 years from now. This is awesomeness happening now.