Are You Keeping Up with Technology or are you Sleeping in the Past?
by Dave Cottrell
Keeping up with technology in this fast paced world may seem like a lot of work, but like the mythological Rip Van Winkle who slept for a hundred years only to wake in a totally different world; if you don’t keep up, it’s going to quickly leave you far, far behind.
Today, I spent a little time on Ancestry.com, doing a little research into my family tree. It sure is interesting to dig into the past, just as long as you don’t live in the past!
As I did my digging, I came across a photo of my great grandfather, Edwin A. Cottrell, and his first family. (He was widowed twice and had no children with his third wife.) The youngest boy in the photo is my grandfather.
My great grandfather had eleven children and lived from 1871 to 1958. That was an amazing time in history! He was a butcher in Orillia, Ontario, Canada and saw that town, now a small city, go from dirt streets and hitching posts for horses to pavement and modern cars!
Think about it. When he was a boy and a young man, there were no such things as airplanes! Yet by the time he passed away, they had already been using jet planes as fighters and passenger planes, and they were getting ready to go to the moon!
As I did my research, I stumbled across a very old newspaper article. It was a clipping from the Orillia newspaper, published in 1955, according to his age of 84.
Great Grandpa remembered the lamplighters of Orillia, who went out at dusk every night to light the oil street lamps, and the excitement when Thomas Edison’s incandescent lights first arrived. He loved horses and was somewhat sorry to see cars replace them, but at the same time, he was a believer in keeping up with technology, reminding his children and other young people of his day of how wonderful many of the changes in technology were as they improved the lives of the people who benefited from the age they were in.
He marveled at how he could call his daughter in Los Angeles, California, all the way from Orillia, Ontario, a distance of some 5000 km (3000 miles) and hear her as plainly as if she was standing next to him.
It has always been of utmost importance to be keeping up with technology. It’s really nice to wallow in nostalgia from time to time, but unless you truly are self sufficient and living off the grid, you have to keep up.
I am reminded of several large towns for their day that were built on one side of the Skeena River in northern BC, serviced by water flourishing until the railroad was built on the opposite side of the river. Great and magnificent as those towns seemed, they could not compete with the technology that built the brand new port of Prince Rupert, and though there were holdouts who tried to stay stuck in time with their old technology to continue building their towns, the people slowly (or often quickly) moved away, and the cities slowly went back to the forest, a thing unimaginable to the founders!
Yet other towns were built on the same side of the river as the railroad when the rails came through, and for a time they flourished. Farms sprang up, mills were built, people moved in… then… Highway 16 was built on the opposite side of the river to serve the demands brought in by the age of the automobile. Today, the towns on the railroad side of the river fill the pages of coffee table books with images of the ghost towns of an earlier age. Those who stayed behind and tried to live on the earlier side of the technology boom of the early twentieth century were themselves left behind.
Today is no different in one sense; technology is still moving forward. Yet in another sense, it’s so very different, because in this new, often virtual world of the internet, technology is moving forward at a truly dizzying speed.
I was really reminded of this as I read an article by Diane Bjorling, called, “What are your favorite Social networks?” As I read it, I was reminded of the fact that only a few years ago, there was no such thing as Facebook! Adlandpro was absolutely cutting edge, brand new “virtual” technology. It was the first, or certainly one of the first, social networks to hit the internet, yet today, there are endless social networks.
The year before Adlandpro began, you could register almost any URL you could think up, and very few even imagined any of those names would be worth anything! Email marketing was absolutely booming, as people would open anything that was sent to them. “You got mail!” your computer would cheerfully tell you, and you would immediately check to see what you got! (It wasn’t even grammatically correct, but that didn’t matter.) People made millions selling every imaginable “How to get rich quick” ideas via email, and everybody thought they were legitimate! Marlon Sanders was king…
Then came the term, “spam,” and the war on internet junk mail began, with about as much success in the long run as the war on paper junk mail at the post office, or the war on drugs… Technology again had to change rapidly to save the day and change it did.
The era of bulletin boards and email gave way to online forums and business communities. Adlandpro did a terrific job of marrying the two with their classified ad site combined with online forums. People could send and receive friend requests, create, visit, post and reply on one another’s forums, and get to know people really well from all over the world. People literally met on Adlandpro, fell in love and eventually got married! Social media was born.
Inevitably, people noticed the popularity of social media sites, even before they were called social media, and others sprang up. Ryze, MySpace and the upstart Facebook appeared, followed sometime later by Twitter. As they all jockeyed for position, Facebook simply took off, and has never really slowed down. People have often complained about Facebook changing things, which they do, often, but that’s why they’re so successful. They aren’t just keeping up with technology; they are creating it. Anyone who doesn’t keep up really is getting left behind.
Today, there are so many social sites and more coming on every day that it’s impossible to keep up with them all. The good news is, it’s not necessary to keep up with all of them, as long as you’re keeping up with the technology that’s driving everything.
Spam, or unsolicited communication, is still an issue with social media, just like it has been with email, and just as it is in the paper world. It’s one of the key places where you must either be keeping up with technology or you’ll be left behind.
The technology of this new world is more and more virtual, but it’s just as real in its affects as any hard technology. If you don’t realize this and try to work around the rules to ply your wares in social media with spam, you will find yourself behind the times, and going backwards. The new technology is a wonder of innovation, blending a mixture of savvy, sophisticated users and high tech algorithms that quickly and surely bump spammers not to jail or the internet “cops,” but much worse, to a place of being utterly irrelevant and ignored.
The technology of today blends cutting edge software, human intelligence (don’t assume I’m stupid, Stupid), artificial intelligence (“robots”) and an army of “geeks” to keep it all moving forward at quantum speed.
Are you keeping up with technology? You can, and it’s not nearly as difficult as it might seem. The one thing it requires more than anything else is an ability to read, well. If you don’t read well, you need to study to fix that, because nothing is more important for keeping up with technology in the new world.
Secondly, you need to be sociable. If you’re antisocial, you really need to find a job that it out of sight, behind the scenes (if this is you, you are needed!) People coming on the internet, today, want to be engaged by the businesses they deal with. They want to get to know you, personally, and they want personal treatment. They would rather not know what you do if you’re trying to sell anything online, until they know YOU.
Then they want to know what you know. They still don’t really want to know what you’re selling; they want to know what you know about. They want to know that you know what you’re talking about, without being talked down to or feeling like they’re being talked down to by a smart-aleck.
Probably the best thing you can possibly do toward keeping up to technology well, today, is to blog. Keep a regular blog about whatever it is you’re passionate about, and share that on social media as part of your regular conversation. People will visit your blog because they’re riding the wave of your passion, not because they’re going to buy something. They will then buy something because they found it on your site, it’s relevant to the conversation you’re having (engagement), they know you’re an expert on the subject whom they can come to with questions, and they don’t feel like they’ve been pressured into buying anything.
This is low pressure, low stress marketing, and it is the cutting edge of today’s technology. The pressure is off you as the seller, and it’s off the prospective buyer. The result is no stress for either of you in a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere, which everybody knows is what everybody needs in this high stress, high pressure world we now live in (I know; it’s pretty ironic, isn’t it?)
Are you keeping up with technology? If not, it’s passing you by, and that, not the technology, is likely what’s creating the stress in your life. Relax. Make sure you’re keeping up with technology. Then enjoy your life. That’s what technology is for!