Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?
These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.
Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...
...seems to be working so far
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Technology Creep Is Subtle, And We Love It
I can monitor traffic flow on the map display in my car. The roads are highlighted in either green, yellow, or red to indicate the speed of the traffic ahead in real time. This heads up has allowed me to go around heavy traffic by getting off a few exits sooner, and taking side roads.
Technology had saved my bacon that morning. Being a rear tire, I did not feel a change in the way the car was handling like I would have had it been a front tire. By the time I heard that "thump-a-thump-a-thump" it would have been time to pull over. Changing a tire on the Turnpike is something I do not wish on anyone.
I downloaded the UPS app to my phone before Christmas. The app alerts me when a package has been shipped to anyone in our household, when the delivery date will be, and an approximate time. I have the option to adjust the delivery date in case we won't be home, or to have the package delivered to a neighbor. I can even ask to have the package delivered to another door.
These are just little examples of how little bits of technology have subtly crept into my life over the past few months. Ten years ago their arrival would have been highlighted on the evening news, but today, the only acknowledgment they get is maybe an acknowledging smile, or a comment at the app store.
We are no longer blown away by what has become everyday technology. We accept it into our lives, and actually expect it to only get better.
Dash cameras for cars other than for law enforcement will be big this year. Credit card security will be huge. I see credit cards being issued with a generic number on the front of the card to identify the you, but each time the card is swiped at the point of sale, only a secure, random, one time account number will be generated. No longer can your card be compromised from its data being hacked at the register. The same will be true for online purchases, and some banks already offer the random, one time numbers that are linked to your account.
Each time we are confronted with a problem, or issue, that technology could make better, safer, more convenient, more portable, more secure, or, more fun someone will develop a way to do it. Most of the ideas, and developments, don't go far after conception, but for the ones that do, they will wiggle their ways into our lives. We will accept them, and eventually, not do without them.
For those of you old enough to remember, think of how your day was in 1977. You awoke to an irritating electric alarm clock, poured coffee from a percolator, listened to the AM radio in the kitchen, or the car for the weather, hoped the tire store took checks, made sure you had change in your pocket to use in the payphone to call for a ride home, and took the package that that you ordered from the Sears catalog inside after the mailman jammed it in the mailbox.
That is all so familiar. So expected, and normal, yet today, it is also medieval.
Here is something you can do today to make the day a bit more fun, make a mental note of all the little pieces of technology that you are exposed to that would not have been there 2, 5, 10, 25 years ago. They are everywhere, and for the most part, so ingrained in our everyday world, we barely notice them. Everything from digital sign boards on the Pike telling us how many miles to the next interchange, and how long it will take you to get there, to the weather alert you just received on your phone.
How has technology made your life easier? Or, has it? Are you saving time? Healthier? Safer? More aware of your finances? More entertained? Is life more convenient?
Or, do you wish you could just go off the grid, and pretend it is 1974 all over again?