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I was thinking the other day about the extent to which technology has impacted our everyday lives and how much has changed in the last two decades. This shift is perfectly demonstrated by the video of a one-year-old girl attempting to “swipe” and use multi-touch gestures on a printed magazine like she had previously done with an iPad. That video was shot in 2011. Now nine years old, that girl has grown up with an iPhone, Alexa, Siri, Instagram, Snapchat, and a host of other technology and platforms that are second nature for her generation and many others.
When the video came out it attracted millions of viewers, spurring controversy with some saying “how magazines are now useless and impossible to understand for digital natives.” The claim was that technology codes our minds, changing our “OS” (our brains?). Others, like Wired Magazine, disagreed, saying that the “fine motor skills we see in operation on the video are the fine motor skills that all children attain and improve across their early development… we have been required to touch, swipe and pinch our thumb and index fingers together long before the first iPhone arrived on the market.” We’ll have to wait and see whether the role of touch technology will impact the development of motor skills and whether it will change one’s strengths and abilities and what that will mean exactly. When was the first time you realized that digital/tech has changed your life? Was it as far back as your first email? It also transformed the way business was conducted and brought immediacy to everything we did. People expected answers instantly, with proposals or actual work delivered in a shorter period of time.
Perhaps it was the Internet that gave you the “aha” moment that technology was indeed changing everything. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, working with a group of people on the tech side. They developed the first online sports platform with fifa.com, delivering information to fans about the teams, players, and soccer games being played in dozens of venues across the United States. No one really paid much attention to us, including the marketing arm of FIFA who had the television rights to this global sport. When the site was launched, it was a moderate success—much to the surprise of those who didn’t understand the vision that the Internet would be a game-changer in terms of how sports would be consumed. The site continued to grow until finally both FIFA and their marketing arm realized the value of this juggernaut and bought the rights to it.
Almost everything we do today uses some type of digital form. We research and buy products online. We are “followed” everywhere we go online by brands, with product recommendations appearing on our social platforms and being delivered to our in-boxes. We get our news online; many get their son social media. So much information is literally at our fingertips, at times helping to spark political movements and change at home and around the world.
For some, the iPhone may be the defining moment where their digital footprint was cemented. We now get up-to-date maps and traffic data to avoid incidents using an app on our phones. We can order takeout, groceries or an Uber, obtain up-to-date information about flight status, and navigate foreign cities via public transit all from the phone with a few taps of a finger.
Messaging apps allow us to connect with people located all over the world. Skype, WhatsApp, and Viber have removed the obstacle of cost in reaching out to loved ones and friends overseas.
Social media has connected us with people in ways we never imagined. It has also enabled brands to bring their voice right to the consumer in a way that was not possible ten years ago. How many products have you purchased in the last year because of an influencer, a campaign that spoke to you? How many times have you swiped up?
Of course, there are apps that have influenced the way we date.
Additionally, no longer do we have to enter a bank to withdraw money or transfer it to someone. We bank online, and companies like PayPal and Venmo have created platforms where people can send and receive money from any location using the Internet. It’s easy to pay for stuff with Apple Pay and Google Wallet linking your bank account to your mobile phone, where your money is secure.
Technology has also changed the way we watch television with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. With streaming we can also watch our favorite shows or movies whenever we want (often in binge-watch mode) or on the go. Platforms like Spotify and Apple Music have made it possible for us to access millions of artists, all at a monthly fee.
Go to Meeting and other similar platforms enable multi-location businesses to hold meetings in the comfort of their offices. Project management tools like Slack, Asana and others make our work life easier to track.
I can go on and on… For sure, over the last 20 years technology has revolutionized our world. It has created amazing tools and resources. In a few years, driverless cars may be the norm for everyone and robots will have a common place in factories. It continues to be interesting and exciting times to see what technology lies ahead. Let me know when you first realized the impact of digital on your life.
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