Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Douglas Adams - Technology Prophet

Apparently I missed celebrating Towel Day - a day of tribute to Douglas Adams (though I do think I deserve points for blogging recently about towels, of all topics). Adams, it goes without saying was an amazing author with a brilliant sense of humor. What I didn't realize, though, was his interest in technology. The Telegraph had a wonderful article that talks about this.

Specifically, the article quotes from Adams' work: How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet. This is one remarkable article, and you should stop what you are doing right now and go read it. It'll be worth it.

In a single paper, written over a decade ago, he manages to explain so many truisms about technology that are often over looked today. Consider this insight:

I suppose earlier generations had to sit through all this huffing and puffing with the invention of television, the phone, cinema, radio, the car, the bicycle, printing, the wheel and so on, but you would think we would learn the way these things work, which is this:

1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;

2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

Apply this list to movies, rock music, word processors and mobile phones to work out how old you are

And there you have it - a recipe that works for Facebook, TV, the calculator or just about any bit of technology.

Next time I hear someone ranting about how technology X is going to be the downfall of our society, I'm going to calmly ask them to read this article and get back to me.

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