Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Throwback Weekend and the Future of The Internet

No Google maps, no GPS, no weather app - a weekend at a ski cabin demonstrated just how much the author depends on her smartphone to navigate the modern world.

By Kim Tarasiewicz

I recently spent a weekend in a ski cabin that had no Internet, cable TV or cell service, which I thought I would enjoy. I do love unplugging every once in a while, and I loved the idea that the kids had to find my kind of “old fashioned” fun, like jumping into 5-foot snowdrifts. But there was a snowstorm coming and I realized that I needed a weather report so we knew when to pack up and leave before it hit.

So my challenges?
  • No GPS or Google Maps to use on my phone – I had to use a paper map.
  • No weather app or weather channel for the storm – I panicked and called my cousin (on a landline, to my horror) to check her TV weather station.
  • I needed more food (I had nine teen boys with me) and couldn’t Google a grocery store location – I asked one of the reps at the ski resort for directions to one close by.
Of course, I use technology daily; most people do in today’s world. And while there is always much debate on how this generation of young people uses technology, I thought about how integrated into my life it has also become over the past 15 years.

Then I drove home to watch the Advertising bowl (I mean the Superbowl) and I saw the BMW i3 Electric Car commercial with a throwback clip from the Today Show where they talk about “What the Internet is” from 20 years ago. I began to wonder what the Internet would be like 20 years from now.

Everyone has a prediction on how technology will evolve and where it will help or hurt humanity. Technology will certainly continue to change the labor industry, with changes in manufacturing and production lessening the need for human jobs. On the other hand, it may increase positions in new areas such as robotics and Internet security; either way, it will result in a shift in the workforce for the next generation.

We already have online classes for colleges and some charter schools, but there may be virtual learning opportunities for students with the possibility of staying home and taking classes while recovering from a contagious disease such as the flu, making schools safer and healthier.

Our technology will certainly change in size, which we can see happening already with the Apple iWatch coming and phones becoming lighter and more manageable. We now have smartphones that react to speech, but will we be speaking to our computers? Chances are the answer is yes, and they will be smarter, too, saving our preferences and using this to make our lives easier. Marketers are already using this - if you have ever clicked on an ad while on a website, notice every time you open a tab on the Internet, you are “fed” a similar advertisement.

So will the future be like living in a Star Trek movie? Maybe, maybe not, but I do have faith that society will learn to adapt to any new technologies, just as we have done in the past 20 years.

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