Today we have a guest editorial as Steve is away on holiday.
Coming into IT in the early 90’s when ‘IT’ was still a new term, (to me anyway) I felt that there was so much to learn. How could I possibly learn all there is to know about IT? How could one take in so much knowledge and be a really good “IT guy?” It was a sense of overwhelming possibilities, albeit, if not a certain amount of anxiety attached to it. This is, of course, looking at the 50,000 ft. picture of what Information Technology was at that time. Back then I was working through college, building white box PC’s for anyone who wasn’t so scared of computers that they were afraid of deleting the contents of the entire 20MB hard drive.
For you younger folks reading this, you may not have any form of reference here, but there was a time when the main stream populace (mainly your parents/grandparents who are now probably using Facebook more than you are) were scared of computers because they didn’t want hit the one key on the keyboard that renders the 40lbs, 25MHz with 16KB of RAM Personal Computer a useless brick. And, although possible to do, this was only marginally more likely to happen then as now. The reality was getting to a DOS/Unix prompt (now a command line), and not knowing how to get back to whatever program it was they were using. The incessant blinking cursor was often mistaken as the end-of-the-world.
I bring this up to emphasize the mentality back then, the wonder of the advancement of technology and all the potential possibilities that were in front of us. It felt overwhelming. Today, reading about all the new technologies, methodologies, advances in electronics and software design, advances in bio-engineering and numerous other fields that may not have even existed back then brings that feeling of overwhelming wonder. It brings that “how could one possibly learn it all” rushing back. There are so many gadgets, smart phones, tablets, watches, refrigerators that tell you when your milk expires, washing machines that start the laundry in off peak energy hours, smart thermostats you adjust from your couch, and I will not mention those glasses that keep you connected at your local coffee shop, brew pub, or wing joint.
As these devices become cheaper and more prolific in our lives, much of the newer technology is creeping ever faster upon us at a faster rate. I feel that technology is ramping up again for a new profound wave of changes for our culture. Or maybe it hasn’t really stopped? I’ll have to Google it on my smart phone. At any rate, back then, I was a kid in a candy store building a white box with 4MB of RAM. Today, that same kid is putting together his first HADOOP cluster. I think the difference now vs. back then is the populace is no longer afraid of the delete key.