Sunday, July 16, 2006

Hi-tech or Lo-tech?

OK - I need help on this interesting debate with D & Gujju last night. The point in question was – “Would our kids label us as technology illiterate?” – So yes we are talking at least 15-20 years into the future!
I strongly believe that we (our generation) would bridge the gap between generations as far as using technology is concerned. I’m sure we will NEVER be as up-to-date as our teenage kids (whenever that happens) but we will at least be in the same ballpark – and that is to say that we will be a few steps ahead of our parents’ generation. D & Gujju however do not agree and hence the long debate and hence the need to bring this thing out in the open -

My justifications –
1. The power of collective learning today is much much MUCH higher and faster. Dissemination of information has never been faster. Sure our parents had the telephone, radio and television which was a big upgrade over snail mail but that is belittled by the power of instantaneous exchange of information today. The speed of collective learning is the main difference.
2. Our lifestyles are much more experiential than that of our parents – a big thanks to our parents who ensured that we do not have to worry about survival – we always had the slack to try things out … and we do.
3. The internet is the electricity of yore. We rode the internet wave when it began and hence have adapted to lots of changes – and really fast.

D & Gujju’s defense -
1. Relatively speaking we have advanced only as much as our parents did as compared to our grandparents.
2. We may end up using the new technology but will not understand it – we will always rely on our kids to help us out and hence we shall always be the proverbial illiterates for them!
3. Our priorities will shift and we will not have the time and/or inclination to keep up with new technology. The internet will be eclipsed by some new innovation(s) and we would not fully appreciate it.

D & Gujju vs. me – it’s a no-brainer! I held my ground for a while before being buried in a huge heap of arguments – escape was not an option! (If you know the argumentative capabilities of Sarat, D or Gujju you surely know what I mean!) But then I still believe that I am right – we will somehow stay abreast of technology – or at least I will.


Sarat said...

Nice discussion there Venky. And although you made some good arguments there, I'd have to say as far as tech-savviness is concerned - the NextGen will be superior.

However, I guess it's important that you separete medium from content in your argument. My firm feeling is (just as Pranav and Soumya) that the average person only picks up so much tech kno-how (essentially knowledge) as much as is of use to that person. Anything more is purely incidental.

In other words, soon you may be using the latest phones and gadgets (as you are so inclined ;) ) but there will be menu items, tabs and mechanisms for which you will have no use for - but the next gen might. For instance rating bars, hangouts, bands, even popular classmates, etc. instantly, or as some of my PhD friends suggested, obtaining a GPS location of the nearest cool joint where the highest number of hip and popular are currently hanging out. Or consider next generation VR games for which there will be better tactile tools for social interaction in virtual communities. How much of use would we have for it once we sink further into our settled mode of social interaction? But would that prevent the next gen from adapting to it? I don't think so. We'd never know how to use next gen virtual interaction equipment by and large, simply because we'd have no use for it.

Not compelling examples those, but just to demonstrate that there'll be tons of stuff around for which we when we grow older - will have no use for. But these things will be developed keeping the NextGen in mind.

Again, as I said medium and content need separation in any discussion on future tech. The reason is that as long as the media which is available to us is supplying us with all the content that we need, there will be very little impetus to move on to something else. Unless and until, we are convinced that the an alternative exists thats atleast as good if not better than our current options, and/or else is being used widely by others.

Those who stay ahead of the curve will have a better chance of adapting to the new tech world. And being tech-savvy could be a powerful tool for the coming future. But, those persons would be more of the few exceptions than the significant majority obeying the rule.

To sum up the sentiment, here's a quote from more than 100 years ago:

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."

-Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

Sarat said...

Carrying this discussion over on to my blog site on this post.

Discussion is encouraged as usual.

De-Silva said...

Dont know about your gujju friend...but Sarat and Soum have you just cant beat that combo...I know I cant...

(did you notice how neatly I snuck away from commenting on the actual post? :-) that shows ingenuity and tact....let alone the fact that I have no facts to corroborate your side of the story!) :-)

Keep writing amigo....I shall try and get back into it ASAP.


Venky said...

@Sarat - Nice arguments Sarat. Like I said earlier, I completely agree that we will never be as up2date as the nextGen. Medium vs. content - that puts things into better perspective. I guess then what I am saying is that we will adapt to more medium changes than our predecessors.
We moved from TV/phone to digital to internet to Wi-fi pretty quickly - in less than 10 years as compared to our parents who moved from radio to TV/phone in about 25 years.
So I still take the stand that we will me more tech savvy (medium-wise) and be one step closer to nextGen.
As far as content is concerened, I guess we will always be laggards ... as some of us already are ;)

@De-Silva - What can I say dude? Gujju and Soum were deadly and then Sarat joined them pretty much crushing me ;) - but heck I'm still putting up a fight (splutter cough cough). But interestingly enuf - shud I consider you currentGen or previousGen ;)

brijwhiz said...

We will be tech-savvy.
The only exception - we will never understand our old VCR's timed recorder mechanism.

Venky said...

@brij - amen to that - and I bet that out nextGen wouldn;t be able to either ;)

De-Silva said...

"But interestingly enuf - shud I consider you currentGen or previousGen ;)"

I may be slowing down a bit...just a little bit..but that didn't stop me from kicking your ass in table tennis now...has it? :-) not to mention that I could pretty much out-run and out-swim you any day and twice on sunday! :-)

now guitars and computers are another issue altogether....and we WONT GO THERE!! :-)


Venky said...

@de-silva - well well ... running & TT versus computers and guitars - and we were talkng abt technology ... I guess you answered my question regarding currentGen or "oldGen" :D