When pondering on the future of new media and ICTs, my mind automatically slipped to the theory of “path dependency” which applies in the economic, social and political fields and might just as well, as far as I’m concerned, apply to technology. Shortly, this theory entails that the decisions one is taking are dependent and highly influenced by the ones taken in the past which have preconfigured a pattern for decision-making, a direction to be followed. Therefore, since the new media has reached even the remotest corners of the world and is still furiously expanding, not to mention taking undeniable control over every society that has the economic and social means to afford it…there is no turning back now, is there? When it comes to technological progress, mankind only knew one way and that’s forward, otherwise we wouldn’t call it evolution and we’d still be painting cave walls for fun instead of, for example, illegally downloading music and videos from the internet.
Men are innovative creatures easily passing as obsolete most objects and experiences and consequently thriving for new ones to overcome the past, to reach the “next level” as many like to put it. True, we never really seem to settle. Nothing seems to be permanent…except for change, that is. Therefore, we could argue that it was in our nature and completely predictable that we embraced and accommodated the new technologies with such unshakable faith and held on tightly. The argument most often put forward with which, just to be clear, I do agree is that since humans are creative by nature, they are bound to keep on inventing and improving whatever falls in their hands . Science is probably the most at hand example and the technological progress is a standing proof of how humans put their never-resting minds at work pushing ever further the barriers reached by their predecessors. As a result, our lives are made easier and more comfortable one technological breakthrough after another. That’s all fine and dandy, but there’s a risk to it: while the men behind the progress are constantly challenging themselves to present us with the new must-haves and their minds and senses are kept alert by the drive to create, the others, the ones on the receiving end, are pushed more and more into a comfort zone where mostly everything is done for and not by them, or at least ridiculously facilitated. As I have already mentioned in a past post, the technology empowered us in many areas and changed our perceptions on human limits forever. On the other hand, the comfort and countless opportunities came with the cost of us tending to pick the easy way out by cutting the journey short, to look for appliances that do most of the job for us so we don’t have to bother. While we’re standing back and relax, are the machines supposed to live our lives?
Following these grim thoughts, since we’re waiting on the next last-hour tech trend anyway, how about we wait for the de-digitalization to catch on? Better yet, how about we make it happen? It would be naïve and quite useless to believe that new media and its means aren’t here to stay. Because they are and they’d better be; they’ve opened some windows there’s no point in closing. What I’m talking about is gathering all our efforts into trying to thicken the line between what is necessary and what is easy. The future of new media sounds all bright and promising and there’s clearly going to be one, but what about our future? The way I see it, there is an indirectly proportionate relationship between the technological progress and the humans’ abilities to perform: the more the former enhances, the more the latter decreases. If you have the time to grab a cup of coffee, why not do just that instead of lazily Skyping? If you get the chance to write a birthday card, why not writing one instead of sending an email or dropping a Facebook line? Technology will make it more and more appealing to do less and let the robots handle it, it’s not their future we need to be questioning, it’s ours.
I do not wish to live behind my time. I do not wish to deny my time and condemn it, constantly placing the past one step above on the hierarchy of “how it’s supposed to be”.
I want to be part of it, but I want to like what I’m being part of.