Is Technology Becoming Too Ubiquitous?

As a techy, and self-proclaimed geek, it pains me a bit to ask this question.  Are we too enamored of our technology?  I’m not quite old enough to remember when television was black and white.  But, I am old enough to remember when cellular phones were new, and people still had land lines in their homes.  My household hasn’t had a home phone for over a decade.  And, do you remember when a cell phone just performed phone calls?  I do.  Now, I have a phone whose secondary purpose is to make actual voice phone calls.

Even smart phones, it seems, are on the precipice of becoming outdated.  Every new technology announcement seems to have some talk about new technology that’s integrated into this device or that device.  Watches that operate as phones, and who knows what else.  I even saw a shower head with an integrated speaker.  And the hottest new electric car, the Tesla Model S, has it’s own internal Ethernet network, that Tesla seems to monitor in some way.

When is Too Much Tech, Too Much?

At what point does this stop?  Do we get so far as to have networked devices implanted into our skulls that integrate with a mini, flexible display surgically attached to our eyes for a heads up display?  When does the six million dollar man come into play?  It’s not that far in the future.  If I, not quite middle aged yet, can remember a time when technology required a 28.8kbs connection to a modem, and storage was measured in Mb, not Tb, how far are we really from implantable devices?  How far are we from being so dependent upon our technologies that we cease to remember how to function without them?

What Happens When Tech Fails?

And if we’re right around the corner from a world where tech is so ubiquitous as to be a part of us, literally, what happens when that technology fails?  What does a BSOD do to an implanted system?  I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out that it potentially could be bad.

Even now, with our smart phones and iPads seemingly attached to us, we sometimes find ourselves out of sorts if we suddenly lose our data signal.  We’re lost in an analog world that seems disconnected from our perceived “real world”.  If we integrate our technology that much further into our lives, and it fails, do we too fail?

Let’s assume that the next Tesla model uses it’s internal network to control it’s voltage to the batteries and engine.  When the internal switch fails, the car fails.  Unless there’s some sort of failover switch.  Worst case scenario, you’ve got a really expensive lawn ornament.  Maybe Tesla fixes it eventually.  But, if the implant in your brain decides to malfunction and sends a surge into your brain, you could become the lawn ornament.

Is It Time to Break from Tech?

As geeks, I think we all try and stay on the cutting edge.  We like to have the newest devices, the newest software, and find the best ways for them all to work together.  My generation hasn’t always had technology, but we’ve spent the majority of our time with some form of technology.  The youngest generations have grown up with technology that is leaps and bounds above what my generation had.  They’ve got more ram in their watches than I had in my first 3 or 4 PCs.  Possibly combined.

If you look around, the proliferation of tech has also brought about the proliferation of people looking to get away from it all.  There’s a new article, seemingly every other day, that talks about how refreshing taking a weekend (or week, or month, or year) away from technology is.

Technology is cool.  Technology is awesome.  Technology gives us the ability to do things in ways that we’ve never been able to do them before.  Heck, farmers can literally program the layout of their fields into a tractor, set the computer to plow, and then just ride along to make small corrections.

Because technology is always entering new spaces, in new ways, we always clamor to give it a try and to make it useful.  Rarely do we question what the cost of it is.  Of course, I don’t mean the monetary cost.  But the cost of what we lose in the process.  As texting becomes more and more used, many of us forget what it’s like to have a face to face conversation.  Or we forget what it’s like to have to wait an hour or two to know whether we have new email or not.  That’s the simple stuff though.  If self-driving cars become as widespread as smart phones, will we also forget how to drive?  It’s all well and good until technology fails.

It’s time we start using and adopting tech in a conscientious manner.  It’s time we make an effort to not forget what it’s like to have to do things without technology.  Even if you don’t have entire days set aside to be free from technology, maybe an hour or two here and there to spend without technology, doing something easily done with technology.  Write a letter.  Remember what it’s like to do things the “hard way.”  Most of them really aren’t all that “hard” anyways.

What do you think about the proliferation of technology?  For the better?  For the worse?  Or, just meh?

Game-Changers that Your Small Business Can’t Afford to Miss

Innovations to watch in the next year

Even in a challenging economy, small business ownership has never been more exciting: the technology and organizational resources available to small business owners is unmatched in history, giving them the ability to reach a global audience and compete with heavy hitters. Here are a few of the biggest innovations that will change the way your small business operates in 2013.

1. Cloud-based storage and team management

Especially if you have remote workers, you can’t afford to integrate your business via email attachment: duplicated effort, miscommunication, and scheduling conflicts are inevitable. You can seriously tighten up your operation by sharing files, schedules, and goals in the cloud.

If you’re looking for stress-free, small-scale cloud storage, Dropbox is the obvious choice, with a simple drag-and-drop interface and automatic syncing. However, if 2 GB of free storage doesn’t sound like much room to you, you might want to look elsewhere; Dropbox’s paid plans aren’t cheap. If you’re comfortable with a slightly less user-friendly interface, Google Drive is your best bet.

2. VoIP service

Internal calls can be a serious waste of money, especially if you have mobile workers or telecommuters reporting in frequently. Get all your employees signed up for Skype Mobile or a similar VoIP provider, so all your internal calls are free.

Video teleconferencing also makes it easier to hire and manage remote workers, which gives your business the freedom to hire from a much broader talent pool. One-on-one video chat is generally free, while video conferencing goes for about $5 a month.

3. Mobile payment

If you do any face-to-face business, you can’t afford to stay cash-only. Not only does accepting credit cards demonstrate professionalism and security, but it also allows you to strike while the iron is hot with your customers, instead of waiting for them to run to an ATM or dig up a checkbook.

Most mobile credit card processing services will send you a card reader and mobile app free with your merchant account, and then simply deduct their processing fee (around 2.75%) from the sale price. Giving your team the green light to accept secure payments on-site will increase your sales and reduce customer headaches.

4. Cheap tablet computers

If you do any kind of pitch for clients or prospective customers, a brief interactive Prezi on a tablet can do wonders to impress and persuade. A presentation that your customers can actually play around with and flip through themselves puts forth an air of professionalism and authority—and with less expensive tablets finally falling below $100, it’s a tool you might be able to provide for your entire team.

Tablets are also a solid medium for delivering invoices and estimates, taking inventory, or filling out requests and applications—you no longer risk misplacing loose papers, and you can post information directly to your database without a data-entry middleman.

 

Shawna Davies is a staff writer for Going Cellular. She has a talent for organization and helping people navigate new technology. She’s a confessed gadget freak, but when she gets out of the house, she loves spending time at the lake with her husband and young son. They live in Beaumont, Texas.