We live in interesting times. This isn’t a curse, Ancient Chinese proverb or otherwise, it’s just a fact of life. While every age may seem interesting to those who are living it, what makes our time unique is the rapid exponential growth in science and technology, especially in media and communications devices. It was not so very long ago that I sat in a friend’s car, in awe, as he demonstrated his new, state of the art mobile phone. He had to send his calls through a central operator who connected him on to the receiving phone then he was required to hold down the thumb switch on the hand held device on the end of a long curly wire connected to a cumbersome transmitter in the dashboard to talk and then release it to listen. Today, we can call hands free from a car or from just about anywhere With that same device we can listen to music, check where we are on a GPS map, access the internet, make a conference call, or play a quick game of “Angry Birds”.
As the man says, “you ain’t seen nothing yet.“
The thought can be somewhat disconcerting in this so-called Information Age. The flood of information, good, bad and insignificant is already so nearly overwhelming that one might wonder what more could possibly be added without swamping the boat completely. As scientific knowledge escalates, so will the information that will be made available through an ever more sophisticated and intimate technology. One would be as foolish as the 19th century patent officer who closed down his office claiming that nothing more could be invented to suggest that the world is approaching its physical and intellectual limits.
Peat and tallow gave way to coal and wax, steam to internal combustion. Barely one hundred years ago the first plane flew a few hundred meters and now thousands of aircraft fill our skies each day. Man has flown to the moon and back and man made vehicles have made it to the furthest reaches of the solar system and beyond. As marvelous as this is, clearly, there is a lot more to come.
The citizens of our global community need to be prepared for all the good, the bad and the ugly that is already on the horizon. More than ever they will need to be life long learners to keep up with the change. While this is a sure thing, how it can be accomplished is going to be the major question of the decades to come.
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