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Thursday, July 12, 2018

So, I got a bit triggered by this meme on Facebook yesterday.

So, I got a bit triggered by this meme on Facebook yesterday. It prompted me to take a break from facebook for a couple of weeks.

So why? A couple of reasons. I had a tough childhood with few friends and lots of illnesses. Can't identify with this image at all. This never happened* when I was a child. But the second reason is that it's a bit of a WANK. Doesn't say WHAT technology, just leaves it blank, so that the reader can fill in their own nostalgic period. And the nature of nostalgia is that in general, you'll remember things as being better than they were. And similar to that you might feel threatened for how technology has changed from those times, regardless of what the reality was back then!

So, when DID "technology take over"? Was it the 2000s, the 1990s, the 1980s, earlier? Well "technology" is a pretty loose term, but I'd say after the start of the Industrial Revolution. Yep, that far back.

Consider that until the invention of the steam engine, force (as in f=ma^2) came from "natural means" such as wind, water, sun, animals and humans. There was a with what you could do with these sources and you either had to learn a skill (like sailing) to make that force into power which does work (e.g. moving a boat on the water). And to a degree most of these power sources could be scaled up to give bigger results. Building the pyramids didn't need aliens - just skill, clever planning, and lots of grunt work from volunteers.

But after steam and other engines were developed, improved, and came into wide spread use, things changed. The skills acquired to handle the natural sources of power became superseded by the skills to handle the engine powered machinery. It was only a matter of time before the bulk of manual labour (in industrialised countries) became less economic than having less workers with more machines. And that's when "technology took over", because technology became a priority for governments and the economy. The last time something like that happened, hunter gatherers start doing agriculture instead. And after that change became increasingly rapid.

Trains meant that you could travel faster than a horse or boat and carry more; improvements in printing made large circulation newspapers and magazines possible, and books increased in popularity and available for the masses; the telegraph (the "original Internet") meant that communications that had taken days or months before could now take hours or minutes, and a whole "telegraph culture" (complete with emoticon and LOL equivalents) grew up around it; telephones improved on that, because whereas before you'd have to go somewhere in particular to send a telegram, now you could contact them from your own home; audio recordings (including radio) meant that people could here how other people spoke without having to visit another part of the country or go to another, so that accents and dialects became more fixed and more standard, photography and motion pictures did the same for how people and places looked; television did much the same, but like telephones to telegraphs, you can now see it all without going to a particular place. Bicycles, then automobiles and motorcycles, finally superseded the horse (or horse and cart) fort getting from A to B locally; people became way more mobile.

The overall effect of all these changes was that by the time mobile and later smart phones became popular, there was already an audience primed for something like an Internet, sharing popular culture and by shear weight of numbers extending its dominance.

So yes, "technology took over" a long time ago. The kids in this image are riding bikes for shit's sake - what do they think those are, but technology?


  1. A variant with a date, which implies that technology hadn't yet "taken over" in the 90s.

  2. And 70s/80s kids, well they had their own technology!