Screen power
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - May 25, 2019 - 12:00am

Do you have problems remembering your passwords? One person says: “I decided to make my password ‘incorrect’ because if I type it in wrong, my computer will remind me, ‘Your password is incorrect.’”

One person who is not quite current with technology tried to be smart and said with a smirk on his face, “Why should Facebook pay $1 billion for Instagram? They could’ve downloaded it for free!”

Many years ago, I used to have a computer guy who helped me install stuff, code and encode things during the years of MS-DOS. I admired the young computer guy, he was so cool and so much in demand. And then when technology began to develop at much faster pace, I will never forget what he said when I asked him about “Windows” as a company called Microsoft began churning out the software.

The computer expert said, “Ah... it’s just a fad and it will fade away because that software cannot match the beauty of MS-DOS.”

I am not an expert on technolgy, but I am an entrepreneur, and something tells me his statement is “off.” How will one person go against the grain of the entire world proclaiming the benefits and the magic of the new product? Perhaps my computer expert friend is imprisoned in his own expertise such that he could not accept that even for a “technology guy” like him, unless he upgrades himself, would render himself obsolete? And yes, it did happen that way.

History is a good teacher only if you and I become students of it. Hindsight is 20-20, but only if we are willing to look back with eyes focused on the reality rather than to let our perception be controlled by our own biases. George Santayana said. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. To covet truth is a very distinguished passion.”

Let’s take a short trip back to the past and see what has happened. Every so often, a technology comes along that completely transforms the world. Two thousand years ago, the Romans mixed lime with volcanic dust and created a technologically advanced product that revolutinalized building and construction – this material was concrete.

There was a time when knowledge and information were the exclusive possessions of the few learned and the elite, and these resources were kept away and distant from ordinary folks. It was a mere 600 years ago when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press and democratized information and knowledge to millions of people in Western Europe. Notably, the Bible was printed and made available to the people, and the traditionally religious people were not particularly fond of it.

The steam engine ushered in the industrial civilization, while the invention of the light bulb sped up production as night turned into day. Factories work in three shifts churning out products in mass scale, reaching out to the multitude of people rendering what used to be luxuriously rare products for the rich available at lower prices that the mass market can afford.

Air travel came, telephone enabled people to communicate through long distance, and do you know that it was merely 60 years ago that the latest technological transformation – computing – has began.

Consider the fact that today nearly four billion people rely on screens to live their lives. Screens are in our homes, on our desks and in our pockets. There is, in fact, a new term that would describe the young people glued to their screens. They are not just “teenagers” they are now also referred to as “screenagers.” And all these screens and computing power are built with the sole purpose of helping us search, obtain or retrieve information whenever we want, wherever we are. Who would have expected that one of the most important functions of smartphones is not to take or give calls, but to take smart and beautiful photos?

Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the world’s first browser and other efforts followed, but it wasn’t until a young software engineer called Marc Andreessen invented Mosaic that the commercial browser started to gain widespread popularity. This browser has been refered to as “the spark that lit the web’s explosive growth.” and later on Andreesen created a more advanced browser called Netscape Navigator, which commanded an 86 percent share of the market. It was the go-to tool for anyone wanting to read the information in the easiest and most aesthetically pleasing way available. But Microsoft followed with it’s own browser called Internet Explorer and through its Windows Program controlled a 99 percent share of the market and Netscape had been all but eradicated.

Screens today continue to become cheaper, faster, and more useful. Technology will not go away and it will continue to change, develop, evolve and would easily disrupt older forms and eventually even affect the way we live and the way we do business. While technology brings benefits and can also be used for evil and harm, we need to be in a continuous mode of learning; upgrade and level up our understanding of it so we can use it properly and guard against the misuse of it.

At the end of the day, whether it is technology, power, money or business, all these depends on the character and values of the person(s) using it, is it not? And so... level up and enjoy the learning experience and always be a student of history.

(The next run of Level Up Leadership will happen on July 17 and 18 and the venue will be announced later. For advanced registration specifically for group rates or other inquiries contact April at +63928-559-1798 or register online at www.levelupleadership.ph)

 

REMEMBERING YOUR PASSWORDS
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