Most agree that the first working computer was developed by German scientist Conrad Zuse in 1936 and was eventually destroyed in an air raid on Berlin during WWII. British code breakers developed the first programmable computer, the Colossus. This computer successfully broke German and Japanese codes and in the process saved thousands of allied soldiers as allied forces often knew what the enemy was planning in advance. Computers were not available when I was in school and I did not encounter them until college. Computers then utilized a computer language called FORTRAN. An operator would type in words that then punched holes in rectangular cards. Eventually, personal computers became available to ordinary people and the internet revolutionized the culture of the world.
Old men like myself still prefer speaking with people in person or at the very least on a telephone. As age is factored into the way that we communicate, the younger someone is the less likely they are to actually speak to someone in person or on the telephone. The telephone is of limited utility to people under the age of twenty five unless they are texting someone. Even email has fallen off dramatically for younger users.
In a relatively short time, the internet has provided us with an encyclopedia called “Wikipedia” that more than replaced the old hard cover Britannica that I recall. EBay and Craigslist have provided us with a new marketplace that makes anything that you can conceive of available. These developments were scarcely thought of twenty years before they arrived and what may show up over the next twenty years; may well prove even more amazing than the previous twenty five years.
Just a few of the technological developments that are on the horizon are starting to be discussed. The “CHUMBY” is due to be launched next year and is a wireless internet device about the size of a rugby ball. It does not have a keyboard or mouse and instead uses software to display anything that you want it to. The manufacturers have not yet totally revealed its uses or capacities.
Every block was developed by Chicago native Adrian Holovaty. He previously developed crime overlays based on statistics for the city of Chicago. Similar technologies will be employed to create “hyper local” news. Local house sales, sports events, local crime figures and youth stories will be merged into a local news focus. Computer watchdogs expect this development to be replicated around the country.
“23 and Me,” will allow anyone to unlock their own genetic history. For about $1,000 American dollars, anyone can find out if they are likely to have arthritis or dementia in old age. Customers provide a saliva sample and also are granted access to an on-line site where they can share and explore their genetic history with friends and or relatives around the world.
Peer to peer lending will put you in touch with someone who wants to buy what you have or sell you what they have. Micro financing has grown out of this movement and small loans are being made to people that cannot get conventional loans. So far the default rate on these loans is very low at .23 percent.
Mob Rules is an idea identified by futurist Harold Rheingold and author Mark Pesce. In 2014, every second person on earth will have a cell phone. Pesce points out that in less than a decade the world has gone from half of the world having never made a telephone call to half of the world owning a telephone. He believes that as people around the world are more in touch with each other, they will choose a direction and by just their collective push, they will be unstoppable.
Guerilla Wi-Fi involves wireless internet connections. An internet startup Meraki, offers a plug in device that increases your ability to share your internet access by 50 meters. A newer device will expand wireless sharing up to 350 meters and guerilla networks are expected to develop all over the world. Like health care, housing and employment, internet access is a social equity issue. These developments will help youth who are unable to access the internet due to lack of familial resources.
The World Community Grid is aimed at solving complex issues like cancer or the effects of climate change by making computers available to more people. The idea being; that all of us are smarter than any one of us.
The One laptop per child program is aimed at providing laptops to the two billion children in the developing world that do not have them. This group was developed by MIT professor, Nicholas Negropante and receives corporate support from GOOGLE.
As technology advances and people around the world better know each other the issues that divide the world may decrease. The young people around the world today, with the aid of technology; may work together to make the world a safer place for everyone.
Remember, all kids count.
Reach the writer at Hurlburt@wildblue.net