I have always been an early adopter of technology. I like change, and I get a bit of an adrenaline rush working with and figuring out new tools and toys. Unfortunately, there are a good number of my friends and family who do not understand some of the newer social media enablers. Twitter cannot be explained to most of them, and some flat-out refuse to use Facebook. Others, I am sad to say, carry a cell phone, but cannot manage to “Text.” These are the same people who could not believe I would carry a BlackBerry® and answer emails after working hours, yet they now do the same. Times and people do change.
The use of these electronic tools for conversation isn’t as really the time-waster they insist it is. Frankly, I prefer to think of these devices tools as “time-enablers” instead of a “time-wasters.” Having a BlackBerry®, for example, allows me to take my work with me wherever I go. Whether it’s soccer games, band or chorus concerts, or business trips, I can easily bridge the time between work, play, and life most of the time. This technology use means I probably work more hours than the average person does, but I work differently. I like the freedom. After all, it’s all “life,” isn’t it?
Facebook allows me to keep up with my kids and friends while traveling on business or otherwise away from the PC. Twitter opens the doors to ideas and conversations that I would never have if I only talked to the people in my everyday business dealings. For those of us with intense curiosity and a burning desire to continue to learn new things, Twitter is the source of unbelievable amounts of useful information, shared by people with similar passions—even for a skimmer of tweets like me.
In a 2003 blog entry, “The trouble with cell phones,” I shared that my friend Roger might have been on to something when he suggested, “…cell phones have replaced cigarettes as a nervous habit. People pull out their cell phones, call others when they feel bored or need to kill 5 minutes or so, and didn’t plan ahead with some reading material.” Today, this has been replaced with texting, email, Facebook, and Twitter. Tomorrow, it will be something else. As someone commented recently, given a choice, people would rather be doing something than doing nothing. Mobile technologies allow us to do something all of the time—productive or not.
Technology has naturally evolved since 2003 when cell phones were the primary source of mobile conversations. While we still use cell phones, we use them differently. We talk little and text often. Technology and our use of will continuously evolve and morph into the next generation of tools. Think about it: the “shared applications,” mainframe-thinking of the 70’s changed into tools like Google Apps and cloud computing discussions. AOL’s IM chat communities of the 90’s and classmates.com have evolved into today’s Facebook, and ASP program models of the 2000’s have grown into the Software as a Service (SaaS) program models of today. The technology changed, sure. But, it was the users of the technology who drove those changes.
Knowing how technology changes, it’s hard for me to imagine that a few short years from now what we call “Social Media” and the technology that supports it, will not have undergone a significant transformation for the better. It will do so because of the users. Users of these tools already desire a more streamlined ways to improve communications with others. I have to believe that users will demand better integration of these tools to make their lives easier through increased mobility. This will allow the conversations to continue and the relationships to build all day, every day. Will this mean stronger, better relationships? Maybe. Only time will tell.
I am confident of two things, though. One: Everything about technology and social media interaction will continue to evolve. For those of us who are early adopters, we gain great insights into how that evolution may occur. Two: My friends, who don’t understand Twitter today, will likely not follow the next step in the evolution either. Unfortunately, they will find themselves farther and farther behind; not just with technology, but also in their social interactions with others as many of their friends more readily adopt the changing way we communicate as a culture.
By know, we all should realize that “this, too, will change.” Technology evolves. Communication methods evolve. People do not evolve as much as they adapt. Either they drive such change by adopting, engaging, and sharing or they only adapt to such change reluctantly in fear of being passed by.
Which will you do?
Thanks to @heathervescent with whom I had a Twitter conversation about emerging technology, which was the spark for this blog post.
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David Harkins is a serial entrepreneur with significant experience in branding, strategy, licensing and marketing.
In his spare time, he consults, coaches, speaks, writes, hikes, explores, and creates art. Although, not necessarily in that order.
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