Alice down the rabbit hole
It has taken generations of endeavour to reach our current state of technological advancement.
As micro-electronics have shrunk everything down smaller than even Lewis Carol would have dared imagine, for most of us who do not understand the complexities of micro-chips and algorithms, it has reached the point where it might as well be done by magic. We know technology needs electricity to work and that we have to learn how to use intuitive interfaces but, beyond the fact that they tend to break if you drop them, we have little true comprehension of how they operate, or even really come to exist.
That smart phones could ever come to be and in such numbers, who could ever have imagined that would happen? Have smart phones really improved our lives? It would be nonsense to deny their usefulness as a medium, you are very likely reading this on a smart phone right now. But they are, albeit a sophisticated one, just a communication device. Just like the landline telephone amazed a generation decades before.
Technological devices take so many talents to make that they are impossible for a single person to create. They need teams to build, more like entire nations. Tens of thousands of people all taking decisions and exchanging knowledge. It is fantastic that so many humans are working together on a common goal, but as we are becoming more acutely aware, this particular goal comes at a price. It is easier to believe that, as a link in the chain, you must do what it takes to ensure continuity and that leads to some bad decisions. Perhaps worst of all is that all this work is for a temporary fix. We witness, and not even in a particularly historical sense, that today’s technology is quickly surpassed by more advanced models and the solutions are leaving a scorched earth in their wake.
Getting the balance right is tricky especially when it appears that we are not looking where we are heading. Is anyone directing us? Bigger, cheaper, faster are not always useful mentors.
Technology is focused primarily on the individual. Families do not need to decide as a unit on what recreation to partake in. Everyone can do as they please, when they please. There is little generosity in contemporary sharing, we are losing that ability even though we might not know it. Modern sharing is actually just posting.
At the other end of the scale, if you look at the things we have created for thousands of years, they can still be made by a single pair of hands. From start to finish. They can be made by a team and even by a nation, but the fact that they have an intrinsic human scale makes them essential. Where we live and the environments in which we reside are filled with these objects. New technological solutions have little effect on their relevance. These objects remind us of who we are, they strike a chord with what is good in people. They are generous, we know this is good, and that is why they often last generations.