The (Digital) Man in the Mirror
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Who remembers a time when being a geek was socially awkward? I think it's fair to say that the tables have turned and the geeks are now the cool kids. If in doubt, take a glance at Silicon Valley: there's now a trend called "tech savvy" – everyone wants to be tech savvy. Businesses want to appear tech savvy. During recruitment, an interviewer might ask a candidate if they are tech and social-media savvy. 'Tech savvy'... it sounds like an additional adjective on a dating profile: 'Cool, calm, collected AND tech savvy'. Technology is now a trend. But I want to submit to you that technology ought to be and is more than just a trend: it is a tool – a tool to impact our world. I remember a time when only the rich could afford mobile phones. They would usually pose in public where everyone could see them and would talk to either a real or imaginary friend on their mobile phone. "Hello... yes this is me... I'm calling you from my mobile phone [*chuckles]". A few years later, the most radical thing happened. My uncle came to the house and told my mother about the "camera phone". I had never been more awe struck and confused in my life. "What is this camera phone? Is this a Kodak camera with a dialling option? Or is this a phone with a camera and how do we print out photos?" – These were some of the questions I asked myself. Surely enough we got a camera phone. The brand was Sagem. We took endless photographs. This was before selfies were considered cool; yet somehow I had a feeling that this little "camera phone" could somehow change the world. Fast forward in time and almost everyone in the world has a mobile phone. Almost all modern smart phones have cameras. We can snap pictures and upload them simultaneously to any and every part of the world in no time. The camera phone has also revolutionised journalism.
In an article by the Columbia Journalism Review called How Smartphone Video Changes Coverage of Police Abuse, it was stated that smart phones have helped "catalyse the national discussion on race and law enforcement, fundamentally changing the way journalists report and share news of alleged police abuse". As some of us are aware, before the smart phone revolution cases of police brutality were largely underreported in the USA. So again, we see how the mobile phone has transcended from a trend to a tool. On the subject of revolution, this present age marks an epoch: a fourth industrial revolution called the digital revolution. The first revolution happened in Britain around 1784 with the introduction of steam and water powered mechanical production equipment. This was followed by the second industrial revolution in the 1870s which introduced mass production through the use of electric powered equipment. The third was a revolution started around 1969 introducing electronics, IT, automated production and biological advances. The fourth industrial revolution builds up from the third. The question we must now ask ourselves in this fourth digital revolution, with all its attractions and distractions, is whether we are going to be tourists or activists: Are we going to be like tourists, simply fascinated by the ingenuity and being 'tech savvy'? Or are we going to be like activists – using technology as a tool to impact future generations in present times?
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