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Online - The American Way
by William Szczepanek

Article 1: October 1, 2007

Technology Advances Continue to Accelerate

It’s a fact that we depend upon computers in our lives more and more each day.  Just about everyplace in the world has Internet access.  We now expect every business and every organization to have a website.  Personal websites abound. In general, technology is advancing at an accelerated pace, but as a country we are falling behind the rest of the world in our ability to innovate. It is common knowledge that our schools are not keeping up with the rest of the world in the sciences and that we are losing many jobs to foreign countries.  Innovation in technology has provided much of the wealth we have in this country and also provides the basis for our freedom, which to a large part is protected by computerized jet fighters and laser-guided missiles, defending not only our shores, but also our courageous military in Iraq and around the world.

Communication on the Web

The Web is to communication as the airplane is to travel.  If you want to get from Phoenix to New York, most people would choose to fly, a slight few would take the train or drive, but it would be quite rare to find someone who would choose to walk. Yet many are choosing to do just that by not getting on the information highway, by not having websites for business use and by not using technology to make their lives easier and more efficient.

Kids are into MySpace, YouTube and Facebook. Their ability to use the computer comes more naturally than it does to those who are a bit older, but that ability is due more to their exposure to the environment at an early age, which eliminated much of the fear, rather than to knowledge of computers. The World Wide Web is still in its infancy and will become an even more integral part of our lives in a very short time.  Social networking, the act of connecting people, will be an even larger part of the Web. These new services will not be on your computer, but rather “in the cloud”, or on servers.

It’s understandable why some people do not get online and why some businesses don’t have websites.  It can be a very confusing and frustrating experience.  If you haven’t recently purchased a new communication manager, previously known as a cell phone, then you may be surprised that reading the manual will not explain the functions well enough for you to easily get started.  At first, just making a phone call can be a major endeavor, not to speak of using the camera, listening to music, watching TV, trying to return a text message, or connecting to a wireless signal to get on the Internet.  At some point these tasks seem to become more trouble than they’re worth.  The same is true of computers.  You can easily uncrate the thing, power it up and get an image on the screen, but if you have no experience in running Windows, which has now been the standard for more than twenty years, you will have no clue as to what to do.  It is not intuitive. It is a learned skill that has become second nature.  If you have little experience, it then becomes an overwhelming fear. The apprehension cannot be avoided if you are to keep up with what’s expected in society, but it definitely gets harder and harder the longer you wait.

Once on the Web there is a wealth of knowledge to be found. There are many tutorials on Windows and computers to help you learn.  Once beyond the basics, don’t get discouraged by failures now and then.  Even the experts go through them.  Computers do tend to have more of a mind of their own now and overall that’s a good thing, but they also can fail from time to time.

Technology isn't going to wait until people are ready for it. Find out about technology that will touch you. The more you know about it, the more prepared you will be.  Technology will allow you to be more flexible and more efficient when used properly.

Are We just Users of New Technology?

As individuals are we really finding new ways of using technology, or are we just users of new technology? People of all ages have Web pages and have used their valuable life experience to help others while doing meaningful research.  Many people have developed websites on their own.  That doesn’t mean that they are doing a good job of creating a site that is easy to navigate and that has the power to communicate a salient message, but at least they are trying. I encourage younger people to get off their iPods, take some time off from their hormonal pursuits and get a clue about technology and business trends, and I don’t mean text messaging, though their ability to communicate through social networking websites provides them a significant advantage in the years ahead. In fact, working together, young and old, will get us much further toward regaining our lead as technology innovators.  It’s the American way.

Now, where did I put my new communication manager?