How “it” is changing us

Technology changing our livesWho is responsible for the change in your habits and your way of life? If you say it is you, I want to congratulate you for being so responsible! You no longer need to read the hundreds of self-help books available to us nowadays. I definitely agree with you and all those authors! Yet we are also products of the external environment and there is one factor that we cannot ignore and face to which we cannot pretend blindness, unless, of course, someone pulled our eyes out of place, in which case, I would not be typing these words and you wouldn’t be reading these.

“It” is changing us, IT is changing us, Information Technology is changing us. Initially it might have only been a important breakthrough inside a “laboratory”; discoveries which were perhaps most useful during war or outer-space explorations, but now technology has been popularised and even commoditised. Generation Z does not even know life without “it”, and for the rest and older of us, our lives have been changed because of it.

You know an important change relates to social media (which is still in hype), yet is not limited to it. Technology has not only changed how we interact with each other, but is essentially changing how we manage ourselves.

“It” is changing…

…the way we read

Since the introduction of the Kindle, or better said, since I had a Kindle; in fact since I really started using it (which was 1 year after my purchase), I realised it was easy and natural to tap on the screen and begin a new page. Now holding a book without such a function, i.e. a physical book, disqualifies it. How much easier is it to tap than to flip? In addition, paper made from wood suddenly became heavy, especially when reading books such as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (896 pages). I was then made “ecological by accident”.

On a French speech I held at Toastmasters, I quoted French writer Sacha Guitry who once said:

« Il va falloir qu’un jour enfin je me décide à lire les livres que, depuis trente ans, je conseille à mes amis de lire. »

which translates to:

“I’ll finally have to decide to start reading the books, which I have been recommending my friends to read for 30 years.”

I suggested my friends to try reading an e-book. Once you grab one, you won’t be able to stop. Soon you will be reading more books than ever before and soon you will be reading all the books that you had recommended your friends to read.

In fact, Pew Internet found that people who own electronic readers actually read more than people who don’t (24 vs 15 books – 2011). Beyond encouraging more reading, e-books can also help us achieve a more minimalist lifestyle. We no longer need to pile wood products at home and no longer need sleepless nights worrying about how to move the books to another city or country.

…the way we organise our time

I remember when my father said that local people had a great way to get organised. At that time, there were tiny little calendars and some very big calendars, ones I had to hold with my 2 hands! I was 7 years old. (Not that my hands grew much after that, nor that those objects shrank in size; but when you look at those objects as a child, they always look bigger than they really are.)

Now, I rarely see those agendas around; especially at work, electronic cals seem to have replaced them completely. After all, it is very cumbersome to print a meeting invitation, put it into an envelope and send it to a colleague or client. There are still people who prefer to do that, but unless it is a huge event with the utmost significance in business or in life, I would prefer exchanging cheaper Outlook invites. They go fast and if the invited is kind enough to reply, you might quickly know whether they are attending the event or not.

…the way we brainstorm and think

Some time ago, we had a team meeting to brainstorm and design a better presentation. There are, of course, many ways of doing it, two of which were the most obvious. One would be to print all slides in miniature size and play around with them, as if they were cards; and if it weren’t fun enough, one could add some colour and sound! The second way would be to use Microsoft Power Point directly to move the slides around. There is a special view that allows you to view slides in miniature and as for colour, there are lots of more options than any colour pencils one might have.

The first methodology is, as you can recall, what we used to do when we were in kindergarten. Just like physical books, they still have some charm; you feel the paper, you smell the ink. However, technology has invaded our lives so deeply that some people feel that playing with such physical material is strange and incomprehensible. Why not take up technology for that? Why would have Power Point otherwise invented such functionalities? On a laptop, it is much more efficient to test designs, refine the presentation and we don’t even need paper, ink or scissors!

Media is feeding us with buzzwords such as digital, Big Data, Smart Data, Internet of Things, Internet of Signs, etc… on an almost daily basis (have these words become our new prayer?), and hence we are aware of the changes in the technological landscape.
When a rock falls into the sea, the waves extend deeper into the ocean; IT’s waves are extending into every corner of our habits and lives.

Who knows what we will be doing and how we will be living in ten years? The technological developments that are yet to come, will not only change our economy and enrich our technical vocabulary, but they will also be changing you, me and all of us in a perhaps silent, but powerful way.