Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tech Generations

I was looking at this kickstarter called Technophemera and thinking about the archaeology of modern technology in terms of how the high turnover rate of tech seems to be creating these nichier and nichier generations. I'm not talking about more niches, though there is that aspect as well, I'm talking about entire generations that are their own little niche.

I've got a brother, he's four years younger than I am. We have completely different memories of entertainment. I grew up and no one had a computer when we were kids, it was Nintendo Entertainment Systems as far as the eye could see. He grew up and everyone was on AOL Instant Messenger in middle school. I grew up, we had to call house phones (or beepers, eugh). He grew up, everyone was getting cells. I grew up with death trap cars. He grew up and everyone was getting airbags and standard anti-lock brakes. I grew up on Super Mario Bros. and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I'm happy to say that some things are timeless.

Anyway, that's four years. The kids growing up are in a whole different world. Why the hell would they ever go outside and play. Their computer can simulate the outside better than nature. The speed with which technology has taken over everything in our lives is insane. I have a magic fucking wand in my pocket. Abra cadabra, bring me a goddamn library. But not just any library. Bring me a library that I can search instantaneously and also it has the entire knowledge of the world in it. Also let that library take pictures and store my personal information and send squiggly lines that make up letters that make up words over any distance on earth. Oh and also if I could make phone calls with that magic pocket library, that'd be keen.

This generation growing up now, feels like it's part of the 6th or 7th big tech boom (or bust) since I've been around. That's 6 or 7 generations in 30 years. Didn't used to be that way. But it seems to be the way things are.

Booms/Busts that greatly impacted the tech world since 1980 (some of these were concurrent, hence part of the same generation):
- Console gaming boom (and every few years when a new console generation emerges there is another mini boom)
- Rise of the PC
- The Internet Wars (AOL, Netscape, IE)
- The People vs. The Man (Napster, file sharing in general)
- The Internet bubble bust (both of them, really)
- The rise of the Cell phone
- The end of the digital wild wild west, aka Social Media's explosion
- Emergence of Streaming media
- The rise of the Smart phone
- Welcome to tablet land
- Cloud storage becoming a necessity instead of a curiosity

This is completely unfinished as far as essays/op-eds go, but I must keep moving and I want to have these thoughts available any time. So up they go.

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