Technology is under-rated today. We've only just begun to enjoy and appreciate its potential.
Of course, there are those who have managed to navigate and stay current with all the newest developments in computers, internet and technology. With each passing day, more and more people are getting on track. But, if we step back and look at the big picture, we can't help but be amazed that technology is still about as developed as the US was before trains and super highways laced the country.
Most of us now know how to send and receive emails, how to exchange pictures, how to surf using at least one search engine, and how to write a basic letter on our computers. Many are learning how to get around all the nooks and crannies of their computers and the internet. If they can't fix the problems they encounter themselves, at least they know where to go for help — usually.
What's most amazing to me is that very few have discovered the real power they have in their control. A clue…it's not in collecting massive databases of people's names and contact information. Nope, not any more than collecting this kind of information is a sign that a business is thriving (unless that business is a list broker, who makes a living keeping and updating such databases). The phone book is just an indication of how useless this is…soon as it hits the streets, it's 20% out of date.
We're a fluid society with constant need to make changes in our living arrangements. The power we now have is way beyond anything imagined just 50 years ago.
But technology, computers and Internet only begin to come into their own when we use them properly. Here's what computers can do for us as individuals and as a country:
- Reduce the demand for expensive energy sources (people working through the networks that can be created via Internet). Less need for travel, less traffic congestion on our highways, less reliance on oil and all its byproducts.
- Cut the cost of acquisition and delivery…No more chasing around from store to store to find what you need. A simple order placed online can allow our delivery systems to focus on more efficient delivery systems between manufacture, supplier and end user. With less time traveling to and from work places, just think about the savings in lost production time.
- Reduce the wear and tear on our ecology and cut impact of global warming. Less emmissions, less waste could put us in a much cleaner and healthier environment – especially when the electric companies learn to use more efficient sources for production. They're out there and ready for use now.
- Empower more people to contribute to the betterment of the economy. More can work longer if they choose. Old and young, rich and poor, can finally become productive. Computers can be up and running in any home for less than $500, some communities are already making wifi services available to all residents without cost. Seniors and people with disabilities that make working in remote offices difficult can now work at home. No longer will people be ruled out of corporations because they don't "fit" in the corporate culture by virtue of the way they look or the way they dress.
- Cut the drain on SSI. This just a side benefit – but, wow, the impact!!! With fewer people cut out of the corporate loop, more can remain productive much longer – and, being more productive, will be less prone to health issues that stem from depression and inactivity.
- Strengthen the family and personal relationships. With more people working at home, we can ease the strain of families that are torn apart. Parents can better attend to the needs of their children while working at home.Keep all of us in touch with each other. Remember those out of date phone books? Well, with internet access, emails that don't have to change when we move and phone numbers that stay with us no matter where we live we can finally stay in close touch with each other without fear of making significant life changes.
- Cut crime. Another side benefit. With more focus on family, there will be less reason for kids to run loose and less opportunity for them to get into trouble. With more people productively contributing at so many levels, less cause for those crimes that are now a result of too much free time.
- Facilitate greater participation in local (and national) government and local activities. Less time travel allows more time and energy to attend community needs.
- Serve as a tool to rule more people in rather than rule them out. Of course, this assumes that we get past our fascination with databases and statistics and remember that these are only tools that should serve the multi-dimensional needs of real people.
What will it take to move beyond our fascination with the technology tools and their ability to entertain? What will it take to move to the next level where we can all enjoy a sound economy and ecology, prosperity and a quality of life based on the technology we already have?