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History versus Future the Chicken or the Egg

Tech and Innovation

Posted on February 3, 2011

4 min read

By now you may have seen a theme to my blogs: time and how technology has changed the way we see, hear and perceive it. While this was not my intention it became clear to me that I may have what some may call an “issue with time”. It is actually more a fascination on how time has an influence over technology, or is it technology over time?  Here the chicken or the egg debate comes to mind!

Alarm clocks

It all started with The Passing Of Tme where I wrote how technology stopped the tick tock of the clock and helped us in not having to change the time when required.  Day Light Savings is the prime example – don’t forget my little hint on which way the clock goes. In Spring, it springs forward and in Autumn, just as the leaves fall, so the clock falls back.

Following The Passing Of Time I went onto The Infinite Power Of Symbols.  With the intention of concentrating on the visual language of technology, again I found myself addressing the visual language over time.

After these I thought I would continue the “Time” theme with:

In Technology – savagery, barbarism and civilisation I covered the 11 stages of technology. Though I didn’t include the dates of each stage, by the time we came to the 21st century, each stage of the human technology progressed at a much faster rate. The 12th stage of technology may just be around the corner and my guess on the 12th is Mankind will leave Earth. Mars here we come.

In the electronic technological age we all say time passes by so fast and we blame our busy life styles. I have to say my life is no busier than 10 years ago however it does seem to pass by at a greater rate. I said this to a work colleague and his response was “Hey Larry, you have Facebook, Twitter and so on and these take up your time”. I would have to agree. Also after reading the comments on The Passing of Time I now understand we all perceive time differently. In particular, the hilarious and yet eye opening comment by Hilary on 4 August 2010.

While Technology makes life easier it also can make life fuller which may cause a perception of life to travel faster.  If life travels faster, does time do the same? Answer: NO. While time passes at the same pace our perception is changed by the environment we are in, for example waiting for a bus seems to take forever and yet while spending time with friends, the time flies.

Now with the internet, smart phones, VoIP and the humble home telephone (albeit quite fancy now with the T-Hub,) we live more in the right here and the right now.  Information is instant, news, gossip and the like are no longer delayed.  So instant information makes the event become history far sooner.

An analogy how technology appears to make time go faster is this: think of riding a horse that is plodding along, you’re looking forward into the future (say at a road sign). Looking sideways you are looking at the present and behind being the past. This all happens at a leisurely pace.  Now picture this in a car travelling at 100 km/hour. Far sooner the future and the road sign becomes the past and in a jet and the future is past before you can blink an eye.

To adapt this analogy to technology the horse equals sending a hand written letter in the post, also known as “snail mail”. The car is sending a fax and the jet is the internet/email. With that said, I find it interesting how many things in the technological world are designed make things faster and faster including internet speed.

Technology is changing at such a rapid pace. A few years ago I was happy to wait the 24 months to pass by before I upgraded my mobile phone. Now 12 months can’t come fast enough to upgrade. What’s also funny is in writing this I looked up at the time –  and wow time does fly with not a tick or a tock.

With technology moving so fast and the next stage approaching rapidly would you agree, history is sooner and the future comes quicker?