What would life be like if technology never evolved? What if, when something was invented, the first version was all there was? What if it just stayed the same and no one ever improved upon it?
We’d be stuck with outdated stuff, for one. But I think we’d also be stuck with outdated beliefs and unfounded fears based on our old experiences of that first version.
I know plenty of stenographic reporters who wouldn’t be court reporters if they didn’t have their digital steno machines and CAT software. Steno on paper? No, thanks.
6 Types of Technology I’d Never Use
Take a few minutes to join me on a journey through technological history — we’ll take a look at some of the technology that has rapidly evolved over time… and try to imagine how our lives would be if that technology had never evolved.
(Yes, there is a point to all this!)
#1: Ocean Liners
Between 1828 and 1959, 24 ships sank after striking icebergs — the most notable of which was the Titanic. And those are only the ships that’ve been documented! It’s estimated that many more ships that vanished without a trace over the last few centuries probably hit icebergs before going down.
Would you get on a cruise ship today if they still looked like they did 104 years ago?
I know I wouldn’t. And if I’d survived the Titanic disaster, you can bet your bottom dollar I’d be a landlubber for life after that.
But thanks to mind-blowing advances in technology that’ve occurred over the last almost-104 years since the Titanic tragedy, I can feel safe climbing aboard today’s cruise ships — and not just because there are enough lifeboats!
The first electric refrigerator for home use was invented in 1913… and the need for food preservation was a necessity long before that invention.
Here’s a photo comparison of a 1913 electric fridge (left) and an early-1800s icebox.
Using iceboxes was popular at the beginning of the 19th century.
People harvested natural ice from outside. In the mid 1800s, ice was actually distributed to homes and businesses much like milk used to be delivered by a milk man.
The wooden boxes were used to hold big blocks of ice. They had to be lined with zinc and/or tin, then insulated with things like sawdust, cork, and even seaweed! Of course, the ice melted and it needed to go somewhere, so a drip pan was used to catch the melted water… which had to be emptied every day.
Aren’t you glad refrigeration technology has improved? I’ll bet your cheese drawer that you are.
#3: Video recording
I still remember my mom lugging around a video camera like this beauty when I was a little kid.
Funny story: When researching for this post, I actually had a hard time finding a photo of something similar to what we had growing up because I kept typing in “old school Panasonic video camera”… but they are called camcorders!! I totally forgot.
Would you use one of these today? Or would you rather use a smartphone like an evolved human being?
Speaking of which…
I’d rather use a smartphone than a bulky old-school camcorder… but not if using a smartphone still meant I had to use one of the world’s first smartphones, which were created in 1992! For many of us, 1992 doesn’t seem like too long ago… but the reality is that it’s been 24 years… and my, how things have changed.
It could receive faxes, send/receive email, and receive pages.
What about apps? It had an address book, a calendar, a calculator, a clock, a notepad, and a stylus-input screen keyboard.
But no Instagram or Google Maps, so I’m out.
#5: Computers (including tablets!)
Anybody remember the Commodore 64?
I do, I do!
Actually, it was my first computer. Called the best-selling home computer of all time, the Commodore 64 hit stores in 1981 and sold for just $595. We inherited ours as a hand-me-down from my uncle in the early 1990s. I still remember playing the ORIGINAL Super Mario on it. Many other games I used to play are now all playable *gasp* on the Web.
BONUS FACT: By the way, the World Wide Web was invented in 1990… but it was hardly functional compared to today — although strangely, I do still see people attempting to market their businesses with websites better suited for the 1990 version of the Web.
If the 1990 version of the Web was the only version there was, perhaps I’d still use it. Or, more likely, I wouldn’t — because of dial-up!!
The Tablet PC by Microsoft was the first tablet as we know them today. Bill Gates announced the first prototype in 2000.
It was literally a Microsoft PC you could operate using a pen — the newer Microsoft Surface line, which debuted just a short 12 years later, is worlds ahead of the Tablet PC’s seemingly ancient technology.
In 2010, Apple released the first iPad.
Incidentally, the first iPad is already considered archaic technology!
The photo on left is of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which was inscribed on a stone tablet — you guessed it — before paper was invented
Um, no thanks.
Paper has a long history stretching back to 3,000 B.C. — the era of the Egyptians.
Even then, there was the laborious task of creating paper before you could use it. It was a hot commodity, and it was very expensive.
Now we’ve got super-cheap reams of bleach-white paper at every store imaginable and more Earth-destroying deforestation than people care to talk about.
Which is just one reason why I prefer to use an iPad: no printer, no paper, plus a beautifully crisp and easy-on-the-eyes retina screen.
Moral of the Story? Technology Evolves… Fast
I hope you enjoyed this little journey through history with me! Technology evolves very quickly, and I know I’m not the only one who’s glad about that!
I decided to write this post after reading many fiery discussions among proofreaders and court reporters about the screen vs. paper debate.
Some folks vehemently believe that if someone proofs on an iPad (because it has a screen!) and there are missed errors, it must be because they proofed on an iPad.
The missed errors were not because the proofreader wasn’t focused that day.
The missed errors were not because the reporter didn’t edit it very well.
The missed errors were not because the attorneys made the transcript hell to begin with.
Instead, the missed errors were all because of the iPad screen.
Do you see the logic error here? Out of the above variables that may cause missed errors (poor focus, terrible speakers, and the screen), the screen is actually the least likely to have had anything to do with it — both logically and statistically!
So Why Do Some People Believe Proofing on Paper is Better?
The belief that proofing on paper is more accurate is largely based on subjective experience and some really dated studies that seemed to suggest readers caught fewer errors on computer screens vs. on paper.
But the last of the studies was performed in 2006 — a full four years before the first (and now archaic) version of the iPad was released. The point? A lot has changed since the studies were done. It’s not even possible to use iAnnotate on the first version of the iPad because it’s not possible to update the operating system in order to support it. That means even if (IF!) the old studies had any grain of truth to them at all in the past, then it’s highly likely that technology has advanced enough to render the study results inapplicable for today.
Now, don’t get me wrong here. Everyone deserves to have their own opinion based on their personal experience. You can proofread however the heck you want in my book — just do it with excellence. And I do believe that the type of screen used could absolutely play a role in missed errors — Lord knows there’s someone out there still proofreading on a 2008 laptop — but blaming any screen in general for missed errors without a second thought about other more powerful and likely factors? It’s just not logical.
Which types of technology would you never use if they hadn’t evolved?