The 10 Year Loops of Transforming Technology

The advancement of technology over the last 20-25 years has been astonishing, transforming the ways we are able to communicate across the globe.

There is no doubt about it that the advancement of technology over the last 20-25 years has been astonishing, transforming the ways we are able to communicate across the globe.

With the proliferation of email, instant messaging, video conferencing, amongst many other technological advances over the last two decades, the work place has changed beyond recognition. The early 2000s environment would be completely unrecognisable to the average early 1990s office worker if, with the power of time travel, one could move them forward a decade.

In the early nineties there was no such thing as the internet in day-to-day office life (well, not in the “real world” at least); you would not have an email address or a mobile phone, and video was something that you only watched at home. There would be very few PCs in offices and almost all communication was done by pieces of paper, handwritten memos or face to face meetings; the thought of sitting at a PC, sending emails and having video calls would have been bizarre, and a concept that would be nearly impossible to grasp.

The 10 years of technology change

Now, if you fast forward a decade to the early noughties, this had changed drastically. The internet was firmly established, tablets had been invented (even if they weren’t very good, we had them nonetheless), there were smart phones (even if they were WAP based or a Nokia communicator), and we had desktop video and instant messaging. The day to-day working world of the early noughties would have been completely alien when compared to the decade before; PCs were in virtually every office, and gone were the days of the memo.

By contrast, if you transported the office worker of the early noughties ten years forward to, or near, the present day, they would find the environment very familiar. The blueprint for the technologies of the 2010s was clearly in place in the 2000s. Better screens, faster browsing rates, and smartphones that actually work, but nothing physically would seem particularly alien.

However, when you compare the 10 year loops (the early nineties to the early noughties to the early tens), the rate of innovation is actually slowing, with the transformative changes in the last decade being specifically behavioural rather than technological. This is not to deny the innovations of the Apples of this world that have been considerable over the last ten years, but it is to say that their genesis was in place over a decade ago.

What people would find significantly different if they were transported from the early to mid-2000s to the present day would be the behavioural patterns of people. Social media would seem odd, even extreme. People sharing many moments of their lives with friends and strangers alike would be the hard part to understand; using a browser or phone to do it would seem normal. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube would be a novelty but these changes are social, rather than technical.

Technology changes

So, the question presents itself: what will the next 10 years hold?

Will it be another phase like the early nineties with massive, utterly transformative technology like ubiquitous wearable kit and nano-technology taking over, or will we be using similar technologies to now but using them to behave in ways that we can’t imagine today? One to think about…

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