Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘tech’

Essential Tech? Really?

The author of an article in last week’s Sunday Times asserted that Google and Facebook are “essential tools.” Jonathan Taplin states that everyone has “no choice but to use them.”

Facebook as an essential tool. He really said that, presumably with a straight face and no irony intended.

The reality of the developed world is that search is indeed essential at some point in most lives. Google owns 90% of search traffic, but there are at least 3 other search engines that are adequate at worst, and likely comparable in terms of information acquisition (if not ad awareness) with Google. Facebook, on the other hand, is little more than a toy in the hands of its users, and likely a dangerous one at that. The nameless, faceless scientists behind the curtain in Oz…er, Facebook…want to get you there, keep you there, and control what you do there. Facebook (and its kissing cousin Instagram) is purposely addictive, and face it, the super-majority of what you may do there is far, far from essential.

It’s very helpful to be able to call up information at the touch of the finger (a sales guy answered a complex, archaic golf question for me yesterday in about 27 seconds). Quite frankly I’m at a loss to think of a single essential aspect of FB in daily life.

My dentist still puts out magazines to help me kill time in the office.


A 35th Reunion: Sunday musings 6/11/17

Sunday musings…

1) Tech. There are no longer any toll booths on the Mass Pike. Big Brother simply knows you were there.

2) NoNo. Meeting up with ages-old friends in our mid-50’s the topic of what children will call grandparents came up. The best one? “NoNo”. Can’t you just see how this one happens? That Mom who had all kinds of rules when you were a kid following behind the toddlers and telling them “no, no” every time they pick something up?

Not a one of us had the guts to let that one stand, but every single one of us thought about it.

3) Name. What’s in a name, eh? I met the husband of a long-time ago friend this weekend for the first time. (As an aside, we would be friends who saw each other all the time if we lived closer). The last name was different from my friend’s maiden name, but something was just a little bit more than different. After looking and looking I finally asked. Turns out these two wonderful people just couldn’t bear to give up their family names, but at the same time they wanted a shared last name for their own family.

No hyphens for them; they just put their names together and started with a new, shared name. How lovely.

4) Beginning. Beth and I are cruising along the highway on our way to my primordial home. We just spent the weekend in the company of many of my college classmates at a 35th college reunion. Such a funny tradition, coming together every 5 years to remember times so long past in a place that pretends it is always and ever as it was when we were there (my alma mater is 224 years old). A part of you kind of expects that you and everyone else will be just like you were when you showed up for Freshman Days, your role and your place as immutable as it is when you go to a family reunion.

And you arrive and realize that neither you nor any of your classmates bear more than a passing resemblance to the children who were emptied out of the family wagon 39 years earlier.

5 years ago I was doing just exactly what I’m about now, writing about my Reunion. My abiding sense that day was of opportunity missed (there were a bunch of folks I really met for the first time at my 30th who I wished I’d known in school). This year? It’s funny, really. Along with fantastic, ridiculous and over-the-top success and prosperity, the most interesting among us were those whose victories were balanced by challenges that maybe didn’t turn out so well. There was a certain humility that I don’t remember from years past which came out as we talked about our marriages, our children, and for some of us our grandchildren. It was very nice, actually, openly and honestly sharing those kinds of things with peers who we would have felt too competitive towards in years past to take that kind of chance.

Leaving reunions has always felt like so many Brigadoon moments: always the same. Nothing new. No growth and no change. It’s different this year, for whatever reason. Driving away this time actually feels like a new beginning. Weird, huh? We are even taking a new route “home”. Off I go as if I’ve graduated once again, this time with a recalibrated sense of who I’ve become and where my friends and I fit together at the start of the rest of our lives. Reunions are meant to turn our view back, but it’s forward I look with a new appreciation for where I am rather than where I (and my classmates) used to be. Forward, consciously choosing those friendship opportunities not to miss this time around.

Some of us take a bit longer to finish college I guess.

I’ll see you next week…


Sunday musings 5/3/14

Sunday musingsā€¦

1) Gopher. Not really sure what my varmint is, but something very much like Bill Murray’s nemesis is winning right now Chez bingo.

2) Small talk. The gift of gab. In olden times in the medical world, bedside manner.

It’s just painful to watch/listen to someone who just can’t do it and hasn’t yet figured that out.

3) Buehler. Sometimes it’s necessary to be present. That’s all, just present and accounted for. Not often, but on occasion it’s unavoidable. Very few folks who get to ignore this requirement.

Sadly, I am on the list of folks who must occasionally see and be seen.

4) Cultural relevance. In the course of my day job it is necessary for me to find some sort of conversational common ground with people from all walks of life. I’m a pretty weird dude; heck, we’re all pretty weird in our own way. What makes me, and you, unique can be a barrier to us connecting if one of us doesn’t find some “place” where we can meet, at least conversationally.

Many folks find this in the cultural touchstones found on television. Letterman is retiring this month. Aong with Johnny Carson and a very tiny number of other drivers of cultural currency, Letterman has in many ways created a cultural intersection across which people of all sorts might reach in order to connect.

My diurnal curve forced me to miss all things Letterman, at least until Youtube and Facebook.

Yet I’ve managed to keep myself no more than a slightly amusing single step behind the ebb and flow of our popular culture here in the U.S. Enough, at least, to make it possible to connect with those younger and older, less well or better educated, higher or lower on the economic food chain. It takes a bit of work, if watching Letterman or reading People magazine can be considered work, and I think that’s probably the point.

Connecting across broad societal domains requires a bit of personal cultural relevance, and it’s probably worth the effort to obtain and maintain that no matter what your lot in life.

5) Disruption. The NYT is bleating this morning that technology has disrupted the economy, as if this is somehow new and different and unique to electronic technology. I call BS. Technology, or more specifically new and better technology, has been disrupting economies since the first gathering of pre-humans around a fire.

Think about it for a minute. Is the internet and all of our ability to connect and transmit ideas any more disruptive than the Guttenberg printing press? I think not. Indeed, there was as much call to ban the printing press among the tyrants of that day as we see efforts to restrict access to various sites on the internet today.

There is a multiplier effect seen in new technology of any sort, and early adopters of effective and lasting new tech gain a significant advantage over their competitors. Combine a truly new, revolutionary concept or product with another new technology and you can literally change at least a part of the world.

Papyrus -> Guttenberg -> Radio -> TV -> Internet. Fingers + Toes -> Abacus -> Calculator -> Watson. Think for a moment about other tech, other new ideas, ideologies new and old that piggy-backed on this trend line. Since this is CrossFit.com, think for just a moment about what “CrossFit” in all of its facets would be if the internet didn’t exist, or it it had not been so keenly embraced early on. An interesting exercise to apply to lots of stuff, eh? What would the CrossFit world, heck what would CrossFit as a fitness program be like if the most efficient means of spreading CrossFit knowledge was the printed and spoken word?

The NYT asks if technology is ultimately the answer to solving the disruptions of technology. That’s as silly as bemoaning the disruption itself, and lacks as much intuition as the original premise that modern tech is somehow more disruptive than historical technology. If you use the creative disruption produced by a new technological development to solve the issues created by the last technological disruption, what do you get? Well, in the fitness world at least, you get CrossFit.

The challenge now, for CrossFit and other present day disrupters, is to figure out what the next disruption is likely to be, and then use that next new technology to remain culturally relevant.

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at May 3, 2015 7:48 AM