30 years from now, how will we look back on the technologies of today? Will we look back in fond memory? Will we find ourselves to be primitive? Will we wonder how we didn’t discover the latest form of technology sooner? Will today be considered “the good ol’ days?” This is what I asked myself when I watched the most recent season of Stranger Things, one of my favorite Netflix originals based in 1980s Indiana. I tried to watch with the mindset of someone who had not been exposed to today’s modern technology, but it was extremely difficult considering that so many advancements have been made just in 30 years time. Over the course of this short semester, many lessons have been learned and changes in companies, technologies, and rules surrounding them have been altered, albeit not as dramatic as fast forwarding from 1980 to today. To emphasize these changes, I will highlight a few key lessons I have taken away from my semester thus far.
Tech Takes Time
One key takeaway from both Stranger Things and ISYS6621 is how technology within social media and digital business does not change overnight, but it instead takes time and the cooperation between businesses, users/consumers, and the government. Remember microfiche and card catalogs? I sure as hell don’t (let alone know what they were before watching Stranger Things)! For my fellow undergraduates, microfiche is “a flat piece of film containing microphotographs of the pages of a newspaper, catalog, or other document” and card catalogs, which were mentioned in the last class, are collections of note cards that help locate books in a library. In 30 years time, libraries have become easier places to conduct research, if needed at all with the invention of Google. As technology develops slowly, making small alterations and additions to create even grander things, businesses, users, consumers, and the government have to keep up and follow suit. If users and consumers don’t have a need, what’s the purpose? If businesses cannot implement new technology due to the cost, why bother? As Professor Chang mentioned, if government specifically lags behind, it will inhibit new innovation and make it harder to fairly evaluate and provide predictability of what is and isn’t allowed. As we can see with Uber’s 70 federal lawsuits, when new technology and industries spring up, we need new laws.
Beware of the Shift Between Creepy/Cool!
With the Cold War historically in the background of Stranger Things, I’m sure people in the 1980s might have been somewhat concerned over who could listen in to conversations held between two walkie-talkies on the same frequency. Nowadays, walkie-talkies are the least of our concerns in terms of the amount of data outside groups have on the average person. With an increasing presence of personal data on the Internet, one might wonder what companies can take away, and even sell, from our lack of privacy. Remember how Target could predict a teenage girl’s pregnancy and feed her advertisements for baby products before she even told her parents, all based on previous Google searches? And how Facebook uses chat bots to push advertisements based on topics typed through Messenger and said aloud when the app is running? As I learned throughout class, many people find convenience and interest where others find violations of privacy, and this will constantly change over time. Who knew that I would be 100% comfortable with driving in a stranger’s car or sleeping in a stranger’s apartment 10 years ago? I personally am excited to see how autonomous vehicle data is used, if at all, when these cars become more commonplace. Whether it’s the use of personal data, hesitations about the shared economy, or applications of artificial intelligence, just see how you feel in 10, 15, or even 30 years! I doubt Hawkins Lab would be “cool” with the police Google searching articles from their past!
There’s More Power in Teams
(Spoiler alert kind of) How were Dustin, Lucas, and Mike able to find and save Will? Through the power of teams—thank you Jonathan, Nancy, Steve, Hopper, and stressed-out Joyce! Throughout this semester, not only did we rely on individual efforts to stay up to date with the course and news, but we also relied on each other through discussions in class and online. If I didn’t read blogs weekly, reply to Tweets using #D, and listen to individual presentations and comments, I wouldn’t have been aware of so many different perspectives between us all. As some others have mentioned, the structure of this class relies on all of us being active participants in a semester long conversation. In turn, I would argue that I am walking away with more knowledge than I have in any other class. Additionally, as the sharing economy grows, people will become more reliant on each other for day-to-day tasks, and network effects will play a greater role in many businesses going forward. Together, we can do very powerful things—so thank you for making this semester as worthwhile as it has been!
Technology is Constantly Evolving and We Should Be Too
If you fast-forward from the 1980s to today, anyone can see the major differences between innovative technology and outdated technology, such as the boys’ walkie-talkies, Joyce’s landline, and even Radioshack. Most importantly, ISYS6621 showed me how this semester is just a small piece to the ever-changing social media and digital business timeline. As ISYS6621 changes every year, we will face new trends, new uses for technology and even the birth of new industries. But with these changes, we must constantly evolve and adapt, too. If technology leaves us behind, we risk becoming obsolete as more and more industries implement technology into the workforce. However, if we stay up to date, we can achieve even greater things when paired with tech.
Thanks for the enlightening, interesting, and somewhat frightening (@Facebook) conversations over the past semester! It has been a pleasure!