Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting



Accelerating Exponentially in One Dimension…

A few days ago, we dropped in at a popular restaurant for lunch.   As usual there was about a twenty-minute wait for a table.  I don’t mind this delay because it’s an opportunity to sit and relax and wind down from the morning’s activities.   In my contemplative mood, I began to watch the roughly dozen other people who were also waiting for a table.  And what do you suppose I saw?   Every person -- without exception -- was looking at the lit up display screen on his or her cell phone.   I was the only one who did not have a phone in front of my face. 

Constant electronic communication has become the norm.  Whether at an airport, or store, or just walking along a quiet forest trail, everyone we encounter is talking and/or looking at an electronic gadget.  And all this has happened in just a few short years.  In the mid-80s, it was a real “yuppie toy” to have a car phone.  It was a sign of entrepreneurial success to have a phone mounted on the center console of a BMW.   Do any of you remember “Iridium”?  That was a very expensive attempt to send 77 satellites into earth orbit so that we would be able to have worldwide communications with portable phones – phones that were going to be about the size of a large shoebox.

How did we get from those relatively recent rudimentary beginnings to today’s addictive non-stop need to communicate every waking minute? 

Technology has certainly played a part by miniaturizing receivers and transmitters, compute power, and the display technology to make it possible.  But beyond that is the social impact and the rapid change in our behaviors that is perhaps even more amazing.  There must be some primordial desire for us to be in constant touch with everyone we know – and perhaps even those who we don’t yet know.  Are we afraid of being left out of some tribal unit?  The rapidity with which this has happened and how it has affected every age group must be unprecedented in the history of human development.  It did not take a generation.  It took just a few years and has encompassed all age groups.  

Are we there yet?  Is this a change that is now in the maturing stages or is there still more to come?   The growth and proliferation has been exponential by any measure, but will it and can it continue?   It is also interesting to note that we are not seeing such rapid change or progress in other areas of our lives.  Consider that our basic survival needs such as food and shelter have not been changing nearly as quickly.  Houses are built today much as they have been for the last several hundred years.  New technology incorporation in the construction industry has been slow and steady – with the emphasis on “slow”.  Our transportation methods are also not all that different from what they have been for the last hundred years.  Trucks, trains, and boats deliver most of our goods.  Cars are improving but are not dramatically different than they were 50 or 60 years ago.  Perhaps the biggest breakthroughs so far have been the catalytic converter and the air bag.  Airplanes today fly slower than they did in the early days of the jet age.  Trains have not improved much at all – at least in the US.   And it’s been many years since man set foot on the moon.  In the field of medicine, we are making some progress, but at a pace that many of us would like to see go much faster.  In spite of great predictions that “nanobots” will soon cure whatever ails us, that is more in the science fiction category than any reality we can expect in the next few decades. 

I can’t think of any other segment of our lives where a new behavior has had an impact as huge and as rapid as the portable communicator we call the “cell phone” or the “iPhone”.  Can you?  Even the PC took significantly longer to become ingrained in our lives -- and has not become as encompassing in our minute-by-minute activities. 

Every day as I observe my human compatriots, I marvel at these new behaviors.  I marvel at the rapidity with which a portion of our lives has changed.  I marvel at the depth to which this change has taken place.  And I marvel at how there is no difference based on age, gender, or social status – everyone has become equally adept.  Given this, can we even begin to imagine what else could be around the corner?  It’s possible that this could be a singular event in human development.  However, since we have no precedent to go on, it appears that we are  “along for the ride” and have no way to predict where this journey will take us. 

Should you have thoughts to offer on this topic or others, you may reach me directly from this site, by email at, or by phone at 425-898-9117.         



19916 NE 30th Ct. Sammamish, WA 98074 Call 425.898.9117

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