Technology has changed the world. It continues to change the world. But I am not Ozymandias…

There are devices that change your life. The GPS is such a device. Not that it changed only my life but actually changed the life of everyone around me. It used to be the only GPS we had in our car was my original portable GPS. Then it slowly migrated to the phones. HP released a Pocket PC Phone device with integrated GPS in the mid 2000 time frame. That was when I was able to stop carrying a portable GPS and only use my phone.

Those devices evolved to the in dash units we now have in every car we own. When you are going somewhere you haven’t been before, a GPS is a great tool. I remember getting off the planes when I was first traveling and using maps. Turn by turn directions from the airport but if you missed one turn you got lost. With the GPS as long as you were going to the right place you got there.

It is and remains a game changer. There are a number of things that have slowly modified how we operate. The laptop was a big change. The original laptops were large and bulks. Now they are small and easily used. Battery life used to be an hour sometimes two. People would go from meeting to meeting with their cords dangling behind them as they walked. Battery life has improved. Then the iPad came along and like the iPhone changed the entire market. Pocket PC Phones were the dominant smart device before the iPhone. There may be more Android phones out in the world now, but the iPhone is the device that changed cellular phones. The iPad changed tablets.

Along the way to changing tablet’s the iPad/IPhone/Android revolution in the end also changed portable GPS’s and portable music systems. You simply carried the one device to rule them all. Suddenly you could have the very best features of the very best portable devices as well as your entire music collection on a single device. In the end it was a game changer.

So do we stand now with our iPads or Android Tablet’s held defiantly in the air? Do we inscribe on the back of each of them “Look upon my tablet ye mighty and despair.” Nope we have learned from Ozymandias. We push onward. What began as an Internet revolution is slowly creeping further and further into our lives. The Internet of things (IoT). Where things can be intelligent or they can simply report what they know to your device. Sensors and management devices systems that have rules of engagement that we can consume. Video, temperature, air quality and traffic all leading us to knowing what is happening around us at all times.

In the end an evolved world. A path to knowing more eventually than any generation before us. My father loved books. He had thousands of them. In the end they had to reinforce the floor of his house because he had so many books. I love books as well. But I have one book. Its electronic and called a Kindle. I have thousands of books on it. I can reference, search and quickly find data in any of them. Additionally I have my Audible library on the device. One device that I carry with me that has the thousands of books my father loved. Plus if needed I can access the millions of books I am not carrying by simply searching the World Wide Web on my tablet. The world evolved away from bulky books towards eBooks. That evolution is not yet done. Many people still love the concept of paper. The funny thing is book lovers are now the outliers.

As child I was entranced by NASA and space. I looked to the heavens and I wondered what is that star. What is that shape in the sky. Now with a GPS enabled iPad and Star Walk, I look to the heavens and I know that is Polaris I am seeing. I snap a picture of a leaf without touching it to find out it is poison ivy and move on. I listen to the sounds of a bird in the tree as I walk and then identity that bird based only on the sound. The world is evolving around us.

In the end technology will change our world further. It will help us make it better for many more people by allowing us to give a child 1000 books. Not one single book, but a book of books. Thousands of books the universe at their fingertips. So they don’t wander around looking at the night sky wondering is that light in the sky Skylab or Venus. They will know what it is.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.