Time for a little context about the speed of life. When I was in my twenties, I was the consumer electronics buyer for the ninth largest retailer in America. One of my duties was to attend the Consumer Electronics Show, the extravaganza where manufacturers from all over the world gather to showcase their products for industry buyers. In my day, it was very much an "inside baseball" affair that no one paid much attention to other than those in the industry. I'd wander the venue complex for 4 days, gathering information and talking with sales reps, trying to decide which clock radios, calculators, televisions, and stereos to buy for our stores. (Later, along came a strange new category called "TV Games" that shook up the electronics world. Part of my job was to play games hour after hour to decide which ones we'd invest in for our customers. Tough job.)
Well, this week is the annual CES show in Las Vegas and I've been following the news in the tech blogs I regularly read. I'm still waiting to hear about the new clock radios. Tablets, cameras, smartphones, smart watches, smart rings, and $150,000 televisions dominate the news this year. The biggest presenter so far was a software company that doesn't even ship a physical product — Yahoo. The stuff that was announced last fall is now woefully out of date. My friend Huntington Witherill wrote an article for us several years ago he aptly called The Hamster Wheel of Progress. The image of progress as a hamster wheel seems awfully quaint now. Perhaps I should ask him to update the title to the jet-propelled hamster smart wheel, version 2.
As a publisher serving lots of different readers, we see the technology gap widening at geometric rates. During the Road Show last year, we processed sales with a Square credit card reader attached to an iPad. We also have lots and lots of subscribers renew by mailing us a check in an envelope with a stamp. I can't remember the last time I hand-wrote a check. In fact, I don't think we even have a checkbook anymore. I'm not complaining — nor bragging — but simply observing how the world is changing and how fast.
I wonder how long this exponential growth rate of change will continue? Said more to the point for this photography blog, wouldn't you love to have a crystal ball that would allow you to see the state-of-art-cameras of 25, 50, or 100 years from now? Come to think about it, I wonder if the very concept of "camera" will be as quaint as a clock radio?
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