The World of Technology - Part I

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Jan 24, 2009

"Technology has the shelf life of a banana."
Scott McNealy

Every time I learn something new about technology, I discover more things I did not know. I feel like I'm standing next to Lucy from the "I Love Lucy" show trying to remove candy from that conveyor as it speeds up to warp speed. 

Did you know that: 

  • There are 31 billion searches on Google every month? In 2006, this number was 2.7 billion.
  • The first commercial text message was sent in December 1992? Today, the number of text messages sent and received every day exceeds the total population of the planet.
  • The number of internet devices in 1984 was 1,000; in 1992 — 1 million; in 2008 — 1 billion?
  • 1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. in 2007 met online?
  • The amount of technical information is doubling every two years? For students starting a four year technical degree this means that half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study.
  • To whom were these questions addressed B.G. (Before Google)?
  • In 2010 a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computational capabilities of the human brain. Predictions are that by 2049, a $1000 computer will exceed the computational capabilities of the entire human species.
The 2007 Horizon Report identifies and describes "emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, and creative expression within higher education." Their research identifies six areas to impact college and university campuses in the next five years. Here are their observations. 

  • User-Created Content. It's all about the audience, and the "audience" is no longer merely listening. User-created content is all around us, from blogs and photostreams to wikibooks and machinima chips. Small tools and easy access have opened the doors for almost anyone to become an author.
  • Social Networking. Increasingly, this is the reason students log on. The websites that draw people back again and again and again are those that connect them with friends, colleagues, or even total strangers who have a shared interest. Social networking may represent a key way to increase student access to and participation in course activities.
  • Mobile Phones. Mobile phones are fast becoming the gateway to our digital lives. Feeding our need for instant access, mobile phones are our constant companions and offer a connection to friends, information, favorite websites, movies and more...The time is approaching when these little devices will be as much a part of education as a book bag.
  • Virtual Worlds. Customized settings that mirror the real world — or diverge wildly from it — present the chance to collaborate, explore, role-play, and experience other situations in a safe but compelling way. These spaces offer opportunities for education that are almost limitless, bound only by our ability to imagine and create them.
  • The New Scholarship and Emerging Forms of Publication. The nature and practice of scholarship is changing. New tools and new ways to create, critique, and publish are influencing new and old scholars alike. New publications and new scholarship may look very different from our current ones.
  • Massive Multiplayer Educational Gaming. Like their non-educational counterparts in the entertainment industry, massively multiplayer games are engaging and the coming years, open-source gaming engines will lower the barrier to entry for developers, and we are likely to see education titles along with commercial.
Did you know that there are over 200 million registered users of MySpace? If MySpace were a country, it would be the 5th largest in the world (between Indonesia and Brazil). 

When I ponder the exponential growth of technology, Lucy's conveyor keeps picking up speed. No wonder Marshall McLuhan described the computer as "the amplifier of human intelligence." We live in amazing days indeed. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
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