Technology running wild!

Technology is knock-your-socks-off amazing!  Just recently I learned that my blog is being read in over 30 countries around the world!  For a person born in 1950 this is quite a thrill.  I was pleased that so many in this country took the time to read my ramblings from Hampshire county, let alone in Russia and China.  I am not sure if this means that they made a mistake and hit on my blog by accident or they really intended to read my stuff and guess I will never really know.  This brings me to my most recent concern, technology running wild.  Our world is being dominated by technology in every nook and cranny of our lives.  I  enjoy immensely many of the activities that I can do through this technology.  Cell phones have allowed us to be like Dick Tracy and stay in constant contact with everyone, no matter where we are.  The cell phone, which almost everyone can afford, gives us near total access to any other person in the world, as well as access to a data base that is larger than any of us can imagine!  This new technology is currently bringing down dictators, changing governments, allowing people to be heard around the world, literally changing the geopolitical landscape of the earth!  This may be the answer in helping us fight against the ever-increasing power of the corporate world.  The old movie, ROLLER BALL, painted a bleak picture of a world where when the individual becomes irrelevant and every aspect of life is controlled by large multinational corporations.  This is not my idea of a brave new world.

So where is this new technology going?  What will it be like in 20 years?  How will it change the world?  We can only guess at these answers, and many folks are currently doing just that.  All the major breakthroughs have been achieved.  The rest of it is a matter of refining and determining other areas in which we can use this technology .  An example of this is the automobile which was invented almost 340 years ago.  The first working steam-powered vehicle was likely designed by Ferdinand Verbiest, a Flemish member of a Jesuit mission in China, around 1672.  It was a 65 cm-long scale-model toy for the Chinese Emperor, that was unable to carry a driver or a passenger.  Everything since that invention has been only improvements, which have been impressive and immense, to say the least.  Alan Turing is widely regarded as the father of modern computer science for creating the first working electronic computer in 1936.  Since that time, growth has been exponential.  The fact is, we will continue to expand this new technology until we exhaust its potential; this is what we do as humans.  The question is, in what way will this technology permeate  our lives over the next 20 years?  How will it change basic human behavior?

I am not complaining about this new wave of computational power because I love it, but I am growing concerned with the direction it is taking.  We humans have the tendency to always go overboard in almost every thing we do; our current trend seems to bear witness to this.  Although cell phones have created a world of increased communication, they have also created a world of less direct human interaction.  Just talking to someone on a cell phone used to be the craze, but now we have reduced human conversation to a whole new language we call ‘text.’  When one texts, a brief message is sent that is read by the intended person.  There is no interaction, no human contact, no real conversation.  Things that may not be said in normal conversation when confronting an individual can be texted.  Communication throughout its evolution has been about direct interaction between two individuals.  This began to erode with the invention of the written word, followed then the telephone, and now will be changed even more with the advent of texting.  Many science fiction writers have written about a sterile world of the future where people stay in their cubicles and only interact with others through their communication ports.  Is this where we are going?

So where are we going?  Is technology the key to a better world where people can live in peace and harmony, or is it the proverbial doomsday device that will bring our species to its knees….only time will tell!

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Retirement syndrom

Recently, Sue and I traveled around the southern part of the country, enjoying life one day at a time.  When we are not traveling, I build furniture, landscape, train for summer triathlons, read, work on my Honda Prelude, write silly blogs, fix the many things that go wrong in a house , watch the Daily show religiously, home-bound teach for the county school system and relax whenever the opportunity arises.  It is  hard to imagine working a 40 hr/wk job in addition to what I do.  Yet, in the past, prior to my retirement, I did just that, as well as to raise three children.  I look back and wonder how I was able to keep up.

I believe there are few moments in history that have offered the kind of life I lead.  I feel very fortunate.  Very often I have said that this particular point in time, when a large number of people can retire comfortably at a relatively young age while they are still healthy, has not happened in the past and will not happen again for a long time.  In fact, life has taught me that if things are too good, get ready, it will probably not last that long.

What concerns me more is the attitude of the younger generation who are currently in the workforce and already dreaming of retirement.  During my 30 years of teaching I spent little time contemplating retirement.  Please understand, there were times during my career that caused me to consider all types of escape, including moving to a remote section of woods and living in a tent, but retirement generally was not one of them.  Something has changed in the younger generations.  Many of them seem fixated on the idea of retirement.  Although I am enjoying retirement immensely, I would not wish away any of the time I have spent on this crazy little planet.  My feeling is that the workplace has become so stressful and burdened with litigation that there is very little fun at work.  My father would have said that work is not a place for fun, but I believe a little, coupled with reasonable expectations, can lead to a rewarding work experience and increased productivity.

Maybe there is another factor we need to consider.  Many people today expresses discontent with their current job.  Of course, people have always complained about their employment but now, the discontent is more deep-seated.  There seems to exist a feeling of helplessness or lack of control over one’s well-being.  One of the worst feelings a person can have is a lack of control over his environment.  Although I have not spent any time incarcerated, I can imagine that losing one’s freedom is a very similar.  So maybe jobs are becoming more like lost-freedom than a career.  At the risk of being repetitive, the current workplace is becoming more like prison time!  It is important to know that there are companies that treat their employees with great respect.  One of these companies is Google.  Working for Google is very demanding but pays well.  More important is the fact that employees feel empowered and in control of their environment and lives!  Not being smart enough to work for Google, requires that I speculate on the job conditions at Google based on what I have read.

I would like to send a message to anyone who employs another individual.  I think this may help employees enjoy their jobs and in the end be better employees.

1. Treat that employee with the same respect that you would want.

2. Always be honest with the employee even when it is painful.

3. Express concerns with employee individually , not at a group meeting.

4. Communicate to the employee what you expect.

5. Expect a lot and get a lot.  Expect a little and get a little.

This is my small contribution to making America better in the workplace.

File this under, DOES ANYBODY CARE?

Have a good day!