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David Porter » Entries tagged with "technology"

Shopping Store-Wars Are Part of Our Social and Economic Fabric

As Christmas retailing and footfall figures show high streets losing ground to cyberspace and technology in the battle for shoppers, a stock-take is timely. This article first published on Suite 101 on 14 December 2011. It is even more pertinent today. Two hundred years ago, Napoleon derided the English as ‘a nation of shopkeepers’. He borrowed the phrase from Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (1776), but it struck a chord, becoming a badge of honour. More recently, focus has shifted: we are now more a nation of shoppers, with shopping promoted as ‘therapy’ at one level, and almost a ‘religion’ at another. The clamour to allow all-Sunday shopping is evidence of that. However, we’re not shopping traditionally. The recession and the internet continue to change our shopping habits. Many fear that these … Read entire article »

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Future Change Management May Be Beyond Political Control

No change in the news that things are changing. Rapidly. Things get faster, more efficient, more gadget-based. Is there a limit? Is tomorrow controllable? In a world increasingly dependent on digital technology, it’s easy to think people will go on developing new ideas, new ways of living and ordering lives, without end into some unknown (but reassuringly safe) forever. But can they? According to Grady Booch, IBM Fellow, the limits of technology were defined in 2003 by the laws of software and physics, the challenge of algorithms, the difficulties of distribution, the problems of design functionality, the importance of organization, the impact of economics and the influence of politics. Politicians strive to frame laws to deal with cyber-crime, pornography, data protection, individual freedom, protecting internet commerce, but they are essentially only able to … Read entire article »

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The Internet Is Making Us Either Stupid or Smarter; Can’t Be Both

In scientific, sociological, economic and education circles debate continues about whether the world wide web damages people’s brains, or aids new thinking. Controversy about the harmful effects on brains of excessive mobile/cell phone use, particularly by young people, has become polarised, without convincing evidence either way. A consensus may have formed about the harmful effects on impressionable minds of too much TV/video/game violence, again, as affecting youngsters especially, or the dangers of too much social isolation while on-line. The jury is still out on the long-term harm of living near pylons, transmitters, masts or any of the paraphernalia of modern living in an information-driven, technological-biased world. Some people are beginning to think that the Internet may not be the solution to the world’s problems; in fact, it may be starting a whole … Read entire article »

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Queueing is Not Rocket Science, But Formulae and Theories Abound

As patience gets shorter, life busier, queues longer, first-come-first-served may be reduced to a formula or theory. But what of human behaviour? Science and technologyworking with the arts makes sense; even mathematics and the arts, is not totally unlikely. But it seems there are maths/scientific formulae or theories for everything, even the phenomenon of queueing. Queueing is not as strong as ‘waiting’, but is a recognised phenomenon. Comedian George Mikes said, ‘An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one.’ No longer, though, are the Brits/English the world’s best at queueing. The habit, often met with bemusement by nationalities with no concept of standing in line, evolved during World War 2 through food rationing. It became a hallmark of British civility: wait in orderly fashion in shops, bus … Read entire article »

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Old Codes and Symbols Reinvented Through Modern Technologies

New technologies mean most old ways of doing things end in museums. However, some flourish with fresh applications and vital restyling for modern times. Technology for playing music has long been digital, consigning records (singles spinning on a turntable at 45 revolutions per minute, or long-players at 33 rpm) to history. Cameras with film developed in dark-rooms are by-gone curiosities. However, many people enjoy old film processes, including black/white, and prefer background crackles from scratched records. While the retro-nostalgia market is alive and many things are naturally recycled in music, film and the arts, others are absorbed into Now. Post Codes and ZIP Codes Have Modern Applications British Postal districts were named in London and large cities from 1857, refined in 1917 to include numbered subdivisions, extended in 1934 and incorporated into the UK … Read entire article »

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The Arts, Science and Technology Fuse Together for Mutual Benefit

Normally thought to co-exist in splendid isolation, science and the arts can work with technology in perfect harmony to push artistic boundaries. The arts have always been at the forefront of technological and scientific advances, from the latest in cave paints to computerised/digital film making/theatrical effects that cause some to wonder if real human actors will be needed at all in the future. Technology in the Arts explores the intersection between arts management and on-line technology. Many universities run joint department programs, conscious of the synergy between arts & sciences. When Science Fiction Becomes Science Fact There is a growing genre of stories and movies that started out as far-fetched ideas, but gradually found reality as science advanced. HG Wells’ 1898 story War of the Worlds doesn’t seem impossible today. While life may … Read entire article »

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