7. Natural arc of change

 Dr Moira Gunn talked with Sherry Turkle (Tech Nation, 2011) of a natural arc of change in technology adoption – at the time when you don’t yet know how you are going to be affected by technology you may use it inappropriately, and then need to learn how to get it right.

If we can become addicted to the habit of multi-tasking – of opening multiple browsers, answering emails from various sources and picking up texts and messages as a matter of routine, finding it hard to concentrate, then certainly this was never our intention in creating the technology that now surrounds us. 60 years ago, when Vannevar Bush proposed technologies that would allow us more contemplative time, (Levy, 2007) he little expected that the end result would be that there would be loss of time in totally different ways.

Speed of change has accelerated – what Marshall McLuhan calls ‘electric speed’. (McLuhan cited by Johnson 2006, p.175) It takes time to get things right whenever there are changes, and we always need to investigate, re-assess, and make adjustments– it’s still early days for the internet. The difficulties in “getting it right” are accelerated by speed of change – and as Steven Johnson observed, we had thirty years to get used to the cinema and all its possibilities – (Johnson, 2006, p.175) and this process of technological change has only gathered speed. Little wonder then if we don’t necessarily get it right first time, and wonder about the addictive qualities of the technologies we have created, and adjustments that might need to be made. This same theme was addressed by Mark Prensky in 2009, when he wrote that ‘we may not currently have all the tools we need to analyse past successes and failures, but we will have going forward’. (Prensky, 2009)

Acknowledgement: A.C.Cherry-Garrard and his typewriter © Royal Geographical Society