I got an invitation this morning from one of many groups to contribute to a discussion entitled “If you could name one piece of technology that you could NOT live without, what would it be?”
Interesting. So I thought I’d consider what technology, generally, has been most central to my life. I’m going to skip the stuff that affects society generally (like food production, credit cards, etc.) unless there is a specific impact on my that I want to highlight. In other words, I’m using this as an excuse to jump off and do what I want to do. It’s my blog. Live with it.
First, since I’m diabetic, I (literally) couldn’t live without the technology developed by Banting & Best, the pioneers who discovered and initially used insulin to control diabetes. Additionally, I love the fact that I can do a portable blood glucose test in seconds, and that syringes have come with smaller and smaller needles (I think we’re in the ow 30s in terms of gauge at this point).
Next. Bicycles. I have spent more of my life getting around on bicycles than I have in cars, and I’m healthier for it. Bikes are cool. And I can ride them at night because of…
LEDs. Light emitting diodes are a technology that grew up with me. The first time I ever saw them was around 1970, where they were discussed as point sources of light in an article in the late, lamented, Model Rocketry magazine. They now light the screen that I’m typing on, which is part of my
Notebook computer. I really don’t thin I could live without one of these anymore. For many years, I followed the “components are best” school of computing, allowing for upgrades bit by bit as technology improved. But. Technology has improved, and now there’s very little point in that approach. I can hold in one hand a machine with no moving parts that can do amazing things. Like this. No power connections, no signal connections, and it lets me have this kind of workspace:
The only thing that a laptop/notebook/netbook doesn’t really excel at is voice communication. Sure, there’s always Skype or something like that, but if you want something you can just whip out of your pocket, you want a…
Cell phone. Doesn’t matter how smart–combine one of these with a coffee shop and a laptop and you have an office. Granted, the quality could be a little better, but even compared to the ham radio rigs of my youth, these are freaking amazing! They can even play music. Of course, tomake music, you need other technology. You need…
A guitar (or at least, I do, and it’s my blog). Yes, that’s technology, too. It’s beautiful, wonderful, humanistic technology. And there is so, so much more.
And that’s why I can never, ever be an anti-technologist. As appealing as the idea is of abandoning technology and living off the land might be (and, see above, regardless of how impossible it might be for me) we all rely on technology. Some of it’s high, and some of it’s low, but it is all an expression of our humanity. Computers are in large part a consequence of the efforts to fight one war and prepare for another. And they still are. some of them. But they also allow us to express who and what we are in ways that were unthinkable mere decades ago. This blog comes to you from me, but the only reason anyone can ever read it (and likely the only reason anyone ever would read it) is because it resides on a network, on a hard disk, and because it can be grabbed by simply clicking a link and letting the LED-illuminated characters formed on a CRT or LCD screen drift past that person’s eyeballs).
OK, maybe not thebest use of technology, but surely better than preparing for war.
Technology is remarkably neutral. It’s a set of tools with which we can do amazing things. They can be god things or bad (bicycles have served as weapons of war, too).What we do with technology is everything.
So. Today. Now. While you’re thinking about it. Do something good with technology. Go somewhere new; lift someone with music; call you mom; email your cousin; turn on a switch.
We make the world.