Right now, in 2013, us nerds have an opportunity to make a difference in the world. Finally, people are coming around to the idea – an idea we’ve held for decades – that technology can make profound, positive impacts on people’s lives. They may not realise it and assume “it just happens”, but when they unlock their iPhone or buy an app on their iPad, there’s an opportunity for people like us to make them happy, remove their prejudice, provide equality and to enrich their lives in a way that’s not been possible before.
For a long time we’ve been crapping on about how technology is easy and that “people don’t get it” and that they’re luddites and we’re geniuses and so on. Well that was bullshit. You don’t remember all the goddamn hoops we had to go through to make shit work? Command lines anyone? How about trying to connect to the Internet – setting up an consumer router was pretty painful (and still kinda is). Configuring mail server settings? Backing up data? That stuff was (and still can be) hard.
Give a person an iPad (maybe an Android tablet, but… eh, who am I kidding? An iPad.) with a built in LTE modem and they can finally join in what we’ve been doing for years now, with nothing more than a few swipes across a glass screen. The barrier to entry for the masses to truly grasp technology has been lowered. Not financially, as that wasn’t particularly the problem in modern western countries – but the mental and physical barriers to technology have never been lower than they are now in 2013.
This provides a chance for us to really show the world what technology can do besides hurt children, rip off musicians, enable terrorists and sell your soul to evil corporations. It can help adults learn to read, it can include people in discussions that they’d otherwise be excluded from, help people who want to help others, provide chances for truth to prevail, explore places and tell stories otherwise ignored – the possibilities are only limited by our imagination.
We’ve been blessed with a gift of being able to harness and steer this technology. To waste it would be to waste the chance to prove that the technology we’ve been talking about for so long, can actually deliver a better society. Eventually people will get tired of our nerd bullshit (it’s already happening) and once that happens, we’re doomed to live in a world where technology is further ostracised, belittled and untrusted.
How are you going to use your talent and skill with technology? To merely live off the fat of the land, or to mould and shape the world into the just, equal and inclusive place you want it to be?