For anyone born after the turn of the century, a world without the internet and mobile phones simply did not exist. Technology in this area has moved so rapidly over the previous two decades that even for those who remember a world before the iPhone and the internet, it seems almost like an alien world. Such has been the voraciousness with which we have taken up these new tools as integral parts of the way we live.
There was once a time when early mobile phones looked like black bricks. In fact, for those old enough to remember, they were often called “bricks”. All of this changed forever when technology developed to the point that smaller and more affordable phones could be sold. Of course, the world changed again when we witnessed the birth of the iPhone and other smartphones that placed the web at the heart of all of our communication and information experiences.
The Convergence of Technologies
Even though smartphones like the iPhone are commonplace these days, consider just a few ways that they have changed the way that we live our lives:
- Speed: Perhaps most obvious of all is the fact that having communication devices in our pockets at all times has sped up our lives. No longer are we relying on answering machines, snail mail, and scrawled notes to communicate. IPhones and their kin make it easier than ever to stay in touch and track what is happening in the world.
- Small world: The consequence of having instant communication in our pockets is that it has shrunk the world. One can browse news sites, gather breaking news on Twitter, and communicate with those on the other side of the world in a mere instant. In this way, the smartphone has changed our lives and has shrunk the world to the size of a screen.
Keeping Up with Technology
Despite the clear advantages, all of this digital technology is not without its problems. Some people struggle with the speed at which life moves in this age and hanker for a simpler and slower time. Studies have also shown that using the web reprograms the brain so that we have become adept at skimming information but less able to retain it at a deeper level.
In purely practical terms, the appearance of smartphones such as the iPhone have grown brand new markets in third-party products, such as phone cases, phone stands, wireless speakers, and the iPhone 5 charger. The benefit is that the adoption of this new technology has spawned lucrative markets and has provided opportunities to many people who would otherwise have had limited employment options.
Each new disruptive technology released to market introduces a host of advantages and disadvantages. In this way, the smartphone is no different to the printing press or the first cars on the road. The secret, perhaps, to keeping up with the changes is to look at the wider picture and understand that technology has always played a central part in the history of our species, and that change is simply part of our existence.