Is change moving too fast today?

Take a look at this quote from a very famous book:

The exploitation of the world market has given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. … All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations. …

It sounds like a comment on the modern post-economic-crash world doesn’t it? But this was published in 1848… it’s an extract from The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

Even a century and half ago commentators were suggesting that the world is moving too fast. When rapid industrialisation introduced electricity, the railway system and factory production it must have *really* seemed like the world was changing too fast.

But today, things move even faster.

New technologies often have a very short life and companies are endlessly trying to get ahead of the curve, betting on what will be important in the coming year so they can get a slight edge on the competition.

Think for a moment about the technologies you have used in your own life. Where are the audiocassettes, VHS video, CB radio, floppy disks, fax machines, and Polaroid cameras today? All these were important technologies in their day and yet are almost meaningless today.

Companies today need to step back from the technology itself to consider the wider impact of how society uses their tools. Look at the recent failure of QR codes – clearly a solution looking for a problem.

We need more companies to use technology for solutions rather than creating the tech then seeking a problem that fits.

VHS Heaven...or Hell.


Photo by Brian licensed under Creative Commons

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