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How technology could lead us back to our caveman roots

By ,
Hope Stephan
Hope Stephan

I’m not bothered by technological change, as long as I can see a practical application for it in my own life or work. I’m hardly an early adopter, though — that tends to be expensive, for one thing. I like to see what others are doing with a new gizmo or application before jumping in myself.

I started my Twitter and Facebook accounts, for example, long before I actually used them. Instead, I watched other people interact on these platforms, read a lot about what the most active users were getting out of them and then gradually upped my engagement. Now I can’t imagine not having them.

But too many people view technology as just a new way to get an old job done and never give much thought to how technology changes everything. Social media is great for staying connected with old friends around the world — but you trade intimacy for immediacy. Communication is more frequent, but its nature is different. No more extended long-distance phone calls. Certainly no more letters — though that may not be so bad, in light of this revelation.

My circle of friends is larger and more far flung, but the concept of friendship has been reshaped by the new communication channels. I may never see some friends face to face again in our lives, but I know when they’ve had a bad day and can celebrate the high points with them through a “Like.”

I like to think I’m keeping up on the tech side, but if this article is accurate, I eventually will be left behind, because I am a word person.

Through all the changes in the economic and social landscape, being a word person has made me feel secure. I can write and edit and teach others to do those things — skills in demand in all walks of life and career fields.

In an increasingly visual world, though, where will people like me wind up?

Ironically, I’ve got two mental images of the future: Me, bundled into a chair in a nursing home, perusing a graphic novel on my tablet and grousing about the lack of words. And far away in an office, some go-getter young exec opening an email from an underling, and the message will be all pictures.

A pictogram!

Writing started as pictures. Maybe we’re going full circle. How do you prepare to accommodate a workforce of visual communicators? They’ll be here soon.

Meanwhile, I’d better get more serious about working with Vine and sign up for an Instagram account. I’m not going down without a fight.

The week ahead

How old-school is manufacturing in the midstate? In other words, is it dying? Reporter Brent Burkey made some startling discoveries when he crunched the numbers. Read his story in the July 12 issue.

We’ve also got a Q&A with U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, who was in the midstate last week; and the Focus on Business is our annual look at executive living and travel.

Now that the July 4 weekend is behind us, you’ll find lots of networking opportunities if you want to get out and about.

The rewind

I’ll leave you with a link to the most famous prehistoric images in the world. Were they purely artistic expression, religious iconography, teaching tools or something else? Because they are purely pictures to our modern eyes, we may never know for sure.



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