Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Missing the Wave

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If you’re here in the U.S., I hope you enjoyed the not-nearly-long-enough long holiday weekend.

I was just surfing through the headlines playing tech news catchup, and a story from Martin Bryant with TNW (The Next Web) caught my attention.

He reminded us that today was the 10th anniversary of Google Wave’s unveiling. The what, ye ask? Exactly.

At the time, it was a big deal, a first and real-time collaboration tool. Bryant suggests that Wave’s legacy lives on in Google Docs, but that the “blind, dumb enthusiasm we had back then” for technology does not.

Bryant continues, “It’s healthy to have a critical attitude to the technology that plays a much bigger part in our daily lives than it did 10 years ago, but I can’t help but feel we’ve lost a healthy level of enthusiasm for embracing new things, too. All too often, new technology is greeted with questions about how it might make the world worse, rather than better.”

I’m not sure what rock Bryant’s been holed up under, but I think I lost my somewhat naive optimism for tech long ago, reverting instead to a more grounded realization that any human-built technology has the potential for both good and bad (see nuclear power and weapons).

I think this past decade we’ve seen far more stories of the bad outweighing the good because of the outliers (Facebook and privacy, Stuxnet and other CIA/NSA tools released into the wild, mass surveillance vis a via Snowden revelations, the endless hacking incidents and data breaches).

But sometimes you have to step back and remind yourself of the good parts. Of the fact that you can work with people all over the planet without always having to get on a plane. That you can keep up, and in touch, with a lot more of your friends (even if it’s virtual…better than not keeping in touch, right [well, in most cases].

We were bound to get down on IP technology at some point because it was inevitable. The network effect kicked into gear, as did the bad behaviors. Are we really so shocked that people took a new technology and did bad shit with it?!

So you want to feel good about what’s coming down the pike in terms of new tech? Don’t believe the hyperbole without first giving it a test drive, and then decide for yourself.

Because there’s plenty to be both amped and excited about: AI, AR, VR, quantum, the list goes on.

But not unlike the first 25 years of commercial IP, a lot of stuff could also go very, very wrong.

Be prepared for both endpoints.

But also don’t ever give up the sense of wonderment, the sense that you’re living through a mesmerizing shift in human history. Because you are.

Louis CK reminded us of this sense of wonderment a few years ago when he would talk about people complaining about the tribulations of air travel.

“ ‘It was the worst day of my life. First of all, we didn’t board for twenty minutes, and then we get on the plane and they made us sit there on the runway.’ Oh really, what happened next? Did you fly through air incredibly, like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight you non-contributing zero?! You’re flying! It’s amazing! Everybody on every plane should just constantly be going: ‘Oh my God! Wow!’ You’re flying! You’re sitting in a chair, in the sky!’ “


Written by turbotodd

May 28, 2019 at 10:08 am

Posted in 2019

Tagged with , , ,

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