Saturday, September 29, 2007

Telecommunications - Our Legacy

I had to write a short paper on how people will look back on the legacy we have left in the area of telecommunications. I thought I would share it here as well. (Only 1 1/2 more classes left until I'm DONE with my Masters! WOOHOO!!!)

Our Telecommunication Legacy

It is mind-boggling to think of all the changes that have happened in technology and specifically telecommunications in the last fifty years. If you look at the entire telecommunications timeline (an example of this can be found at, you can see that the biggest jumps in innovation have happened in the last fifteen to twenty-five years. The birth of the World Wide Web introduced so many new possibilities that we are just now beginning to discover.

I was born just as the ‘computer generation’ was starting. Our first family computer was a Commodore VIC-20, which we mostly used to play silly text games (which I really miss . . .). I learned about computers on old Apple II’s in elementary school and lived through the change to so-called IBM-compatible PCs in the education world. We got our first IBM-compatible personal computer around 1990 before the popular Windows 3.1 was introduced. My Dad and I bonded over learning the DOS language, and we un-bonded when I erroneously loaded a shareware program onto the root directory and extremely efficiently “lobotomized” our first computer. :-) It was a learning experience, to say the least. However, one standout thing that I remember is the first time that I used a Bulletin Board, and words started popping up on the screen as someone from across the country typed to me. I felt like I was witnessing something important and historic . . . and I was right. The World Wide Web completely changed how people use computers and how we communicate with each other.

In the past five years, I have seen so many innovative technologies that can only lead the way to technological solutions we have only dreamed of in the past. The introduction of Web 2.0 technologies, such as the use of YouTube, blogs, and MySpace, first seen as frivolous teenage hobbies, are now being taken seriously by presidential candidates and marketing gurus alike. This change in attitude by people seen as leaders has validated a form of communication that was once only looked down upon. People are finding ways to make their voices heard from all over the world – and the world is taking notice.

I often say, “What did we do before the internet?” And even though, we all seemed to get by just fine – I think about how difficult it would be to get my work done now, if not for sites like Google. Every time someone asks me about something they don’t know or they don’t understand, my first response is, “Did you Google it?” I often receive credit for being very resourceful, when all I’m doing is typing something into a search engine and hitting Enter . . . it isn’t that difficult.

I believe that this generation is going to leave a legacy of finding a voice for people who once did not have one. More and more people are creating blogs where they can sit at home in their pajamas and write diatribes about politics, religion, or their relationship with their pets. People are learning to share their knowledge with each other and learning to ‘listen’ to others in new ways. I think that this generation is going to be remembered as a generation that looked forward to instead of feared change . . . and started breaking down the barriers that exist in the physical world by communicating in the virtual one.

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