Are you on Facebook? I was recently asked this question at a business meeting, where women my age and older were discussing this new world of social networking. My daughter has been on Facebook for years, having joined when membership was still restricted to college students. One of my sons joined about a year ago, but I hadn’t given it much thought until the phenomenon began trickling up to my age bracket. I had to try it, so I signed up one day, and now I’m learning the ropes—privacy settings, etiquette, the difference between sending a message and writing on one’s “wall.”
A quick look around at a recent board meeting revealed half were communicating on their blackberries, and nine of 10 had their phones/PDAs on the table in front of them, with one eye on the chairman and the other on their devices. The hums of vibrating phones cut the air every few minutes.
Technology has forever changed the way we think and act; it has enhanced our productivity, altered our way of doing business, and brought us the “knowledge economy.” We now have the first “Blackberry president.” And with this massive sea change has come all of the promise and peril of today’s 21st-century, “always-on” lifestyle.
New forms of communication that once required centuries or decades to rise from inception to mass adoption now do so in a matter of months. The printing press, the telephone, even the Internet—each took time to make their ways into our everyday lives. Uneasy with change, people had to be convinced that these technologies were useful. The fax machine, invented in 1842 (yes, before the telephone), only became an office staple in the mid-1980s. Twenty years later, it sits idle most of the time.
Each technology builds upon previous ones. The Internet was built on existing phone lines and computer technology, and then spawned email, chat rooms, instant messaging and social networking. I’m getting caught up to Facebook, while many have moved on to Twitter. Who knows what’s next? The cutting edge is far beyond the scope of my vision.
In this issue, we focus mostly on internet and web technologies, but technology, of course, encompasses so much more than that, from the emissions technologies in Caterpillar machines to the introduction of the quartz watch. The Peoria area is full of promising young technology start-ups with great potential to shake up the world. Stay tuned for our focus on innovation in the May issue!
Our website has been around for some time, and now we’re on Facebook! You can “become a fan” of InterBusiness Issues and art & society—look us up at facebook.com. If you have been honored in the past with a 40 Leaders Under Forty award, look for our 40 Leaders Under Forty Alumni networking group. Finally, after eight issues of the “new iBi,” we are conducting a readers’ survey this month—turn back one page or visit peoriamagazines.com/survey and send us your feedback!
Nothing beats the original communications technology—face-to-face conversation—but the exponential growth and viral nature of networks make so much more possible in today’s fast-paced world. It’s one massive social experiment—kind of like this stimulus package! LOL. iBi