24 November 2005

Is Technology really getting smaller?

Human endeavour and progress is defined by superlatives. Faster, Higher, Stronger1, Better, Cheaper, Faster2, Smaller. If and when we meet aliens, we're only going to be impressed if their MP3 players are smaller than ours. Their capacity for intergalactic travel is so last century.

But is it really getting smaller? Taken as a whole, no. I agree that the bits of the system that the end-user gets to play with are getting smaller, shinier, faster, cheaper, etc. But these gadgets are the 10% you do see. As with icebergs, it's the 90% you don't that you need to think about.

The easiest way to make gadgets smaller is to devolve elements of their operation away from the gadget itself. Yes, your iPod may be teeny-tiny, but take a look at its power supply. What an iSore! My first impression when I saw that was of the boat disguised as an iceberg used by Roger Moore in A View to A Kill, which was the height of 1980s tech. The Internet is so very shiny, but it all lives on big, matt black servers occupying entire floors of office buildings around the world.

I'm always predicting the day when mobile phones get so small that when you open the box, it looks empty. All there will be is a syringe marked "Nokia 9999x" which you'll inject in your ear and bingo!, you'll be sending pornographic pictures of the girls showering at the gym to your mate Steve on Mars. But when you have to recharge it, you'll have to stick a plug up your arse and connect it to the generator van parked in the drive. Plus, all the while, it will be happily microwaving your skull.....NO! Stop that alarmist-media-bollocks immediately!

Technology isn't getting smaller. Instead of a box, you get two smaller boxes, one of which you take with you. In twenty years, your hi-fi will just be a big box of dust. The price of progress and gadget teenification is an ugly power supply. Woo.

1 The Olympic Motto; "Citius, Altius, Fortius". Just so you know.
2 NASAs approach to spacecraft.

No comments:

Post a Comment