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An Ode to Technology: Homo Sapiens' Heritage

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"The Internet? We are not interested in it" -- Bill Gates, 1993

New technologies are often perceived as a silly new fad, a vulgar deviation from the good old "classic'. The classic is always perceived by the present generation as more organic and more stable. But the cynical critics of technological advancements are often unaware that this "silly fad', often becomes the "classic' standard of newer generations. The worn old 15th century edition of a renaissance book, which you may deem as a classic piece of artistic and intellectual endeavor of old times, could very well have been a grotesque and vulgar implementation of mass production literature, to a "classic" purist of that time. The same criticism was made of the Beatles, by members of the "Silent Generation', of the piano by a baroque music enthusiast, or of the telephone by a telegraph user. You take your pick.

I can imagine that another good reason for the quotes above to be so common when they arise, is probably the reluctance to change. It could arguably be said that change is the driving force of human civilization, and yet it sometimes feels almost like a daring sin just to be able to embrace it. Status quo on the other hand, offers stability and protection from failure and rejection. Possibly for this reason and many more, change is not a cheap item to buy; it is not for the faint of heart, and it requires us to open ourselves to something that may seem ridiculous at first, risky or even vulgar when compared to the institution of the "classic'. However, change, or the movement of the zeitgeist, is one thing that is always to be persistent in the present and future generations. It needs the ingenuity and imagination of a few brave and daring individuals, because ultimately, the advancement of civilization depends on it.

Today, in what we call post-industrial society, an ubiquitous movement given the title of "Informational Revolution', has spawned what many call a "Global Village'. This concept has been paved by the invention of the microchip; personal computers, and ultimately, the Internet. Thanks to it, Information and ideas are easily delivered through affordable communication technology not available before, and it is now increasingly accessible to millions across the globe. You have organizations that are able to exchange and diffuse ideas and information; businesses able to obtain precise data about their operations and growth; artists able to share inspiration, exchange thoughts and their works; you have peer reviews and widely voiced opinions, and fellowships that would've been unlikely previous to this milestone. We are now able to create large communities that transcend the physical barriers that once kept them segregated.

As an example, "Macheads", a 2009 documentary directed by Kobi Shely, tells the history of the Apple Macintosh community since its early beginnings in the late 70's. Even within a niche that could be called technologically savvy, its earlier adopters resented the effects of the Internet for the changes it brought. The reason for this protest was that their social network, which was once segmented in local face-to-face User-groups, became boundless and global in an endless virtual "impersonal" world. Does this mean that human contact has been removed from the equation? Not at all. The small niche had now become a huge community of millions of users that is constantly changing and improving like a shapeless entity. Now users have the option to interact with others from all corners of the world, organize meetings (virtual or physical) and exchange ideas with speeds much faster than the previous exclusively coffee shop gatherings. As with the Apple Community, this change is taking place in all facets of our lives, but the change is not a limiting one, instead it is one that offers growth and diversification. People now have the option to meet, create fellowships from miles away, interact online or decide when to meet up for lunch or dinner. We can find a book we want to read, order it and have it delivered to our doorstep the next day. We can even do that on our mobile phone while speaking to a friend, or after checking the schedule of a theater function or piano concert.

To restate the point of all I've said above, technological innovation and the change brought by it almost always creates resistance within the generation that gives birth to it. But once this resistance is overcome, the bar for maximum human potential moves further and grows. Technological advancement is not limited to the latest electronic gadget of 2010, it is not merely the "new fad" which will just be over in a season. Technology defines us as a species, and it is fueled by our curiosity, passion and intellect; the same way that art, science and poetry are. Indeed, the creation of new technology requires science, art and poetry to come to fruition. It is part of our legacy as humans. It is that iconic bone held by the apes at the beginning of Stanley Kubrick's Masterpiece "2001: Space Odyssey", and it is also the iPad that my friend will use next year to send a reply to one of my whimsical emails, read her book or watch a movie.

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A freelance writer and a philosopher, hailing from the island of Puerto Rico and currently living in Germantown Maryland.

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