The evolution-speed of enterprise-level tech is another factor. There are few if any techs that support Sony's Beta or U-Matic video machines these days, although those were industry-standards not so long ago. The relentless crush of Moore's Law has digitized the global village: Marshall McLuhan was only half-right as a futurist, William Gibson (who coined the term "cyberspace" and gave it form) is an essential part of the mix. Computing power shifted from the mainframe-room, to our desktops, into our pockets. We can get more done with the new machines...or we can fling cartoon-birds.
Much has been written about the way young minds--weaned on digital devices--will develop. Will multi-tasking become an innate trait, allowing the next generation of tech-workers to juggle tasks simultaneously with greater productivity? Or will information overload prove too much? As my colleague Chee-Sing Chan put it in an excellent blog post: "When will the addition of a technology bring no further utility or productivity to anyone because it's all too much?"
I like Chan's optimism and to an extent, I share it. But I'm still old-school when it comes to technology. Programmers and developers need mathematical basics that haven't changed in centuries.
The machines we work on reflect Bauhaus design-principles--their rounded lines are aesthetically pleasing and they fit well in trendy cases and sleeves. But every computer is fundamentally an adding machine working at furious speed, executing programs written by people in code that looks like a dashboard to the knowledge-worker. Every app, whether aimed at work or fun, is a grand illusion created by "the man behind the curtain."
We need the creative-types, the number-crunchers and the communication-experts. But we also need the men and women behind the curtain. They are the ones who write the upgrades that improve functionality and security for our modern tech-environment. They're the ones we contact when our cloud-servers need configuring, when our IP addresses clash, when our email inbox becomes a spam-o-copia.
We need our IT-literates. Let's hope the next generation understands the principles of computing as skillfully as they can multitask.
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