Black Magic

January 23rd, 2017

I had mentioned on my show that I had read several years ago that the rate of change in technology that had taken 25 years to achieve was now happening in increments of 5 years and since that article probably has accelerated even more. Listener Ted sent me an article pertaining to this. The article featured graphs from Nicholas Felton of The New York Times and Michael DeGusta of MIT’s Technology Review. The graphs pointed out that “it took decades for the telephone to reach 50% of households, beginning before 1900 and another 15 years before they became ubiquitous. It took 30 years for electricity to reach 10% adoption.” Electricity! Maybe it was a cost factor or maybe people thought it was black magic, but if I’m reading by candlelight for years and something comes along where I can just flip a switch instead of lighting dozens of waxy/melty things every night, sign me up. Same with the phone, if I have to send a letter to order a pizza and someone invents a device I can talk into and within an hour, or day, a horse drawn delivery wagon comes with my pizza, sign me up. “It took five years or less for cellphones to accomplish the same 50% penetration in 1990.” And we already had phones! If 100 years ago someone came by your house and said “hey, I’ve got something here called electricity where you can put lights on your Christmas tree instead of lighting candles and not burn your house down” and another thing called a telephone where you can talk in one end and another person on the other end says “hey, did you sign up for that thing called electricity”, why wouldn’t you want that? Imagine if people a century ago were told about Amazon’s Alexa. “Oh, I can’t have that talking cylinder, it would scare the wood burning stove.” Which kind of makes me understand and not understand how the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus lasted almost 150 years.

Garry Meier

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