Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Future Is Here: From Strek Trek To Mad Men To Today

I've been watching Star Trek the Next Generation for the last three weeks on Netflix.  I finally finished "All Good Things…" early Saturday morning.  It was an experience in and of itself going back to "Encounter At Farpoint".  All hight tech and suddenly, I'm back in the 1960s with "Mad Men".  I went from a show where anything is possible technologically to typewriters.

I don't want to give away any spoils but during one point in season one of Mad Men, the main character, Don Draper, surprised his family by saying that he was going to join them for Thanksgiving.  His wife was surprised because of his high-stressed job and workload.  

What would those characters have done differently had they live today with our technology or those on the Enterprise?

And what's interesting is that I I half expected to see laptops, cell phones, and other 2011 tech as I watched Mad Men.  A part of me would think those missed calls could have been avoided had there been cell phones or that research would easier of those ad men had access to the World Wide Web.  And yet, they managed to things done.  Probably not as efficient but in a fast moving world such as Manhattan, well, you had to be creative and innovative.

And this was even before the answering machines.  I guess that was why they had rows of secretaries in the offices.   Then there was Star Trek where the characters we saw was just a comm badge away.

Today, we have mobile devices, cell phones and a smart devices with always on connectivity.  

Obviously, the contrast is inescapable.  And with the new technology we have today, we are increasing able to literally work away from our offices or learn away from our schools.  Coffee shops, vacation homes, hotels.  You name it.  

Had Don Draper had access to today's technology, he could be working from just about anywhere he wanted to in the work.  Those long office nights (ones when he  was actually in the office) could have been nights spent at home had he had a laptop with VPN access to his company's servers.  (And I guess in the Star Trek universe, he could be a very effective captain of a starship.)

In fact, I know of folks in his type of job and position who now carry around cell phones and laptops with them.  And when on vacation half a world away, they had access to what is going on back at their offices without missing a beat.  

I just wanted to point out the dramatic changes from then to the 24th century and where we are.  And we are closer to the fictional world of Star Trek as far as the mobile gadgets and tablets that allow us to work from anywhere in the world.

Imagine how things are now without if we don't have wireless Internet or laptops.  We can still have PCs but we would be stuck at the office or home.  Or even before world processors.  I remembered typing up papers in high school without the Apple II.  Typing and retyping like they do in Mad Men.  Of course, in Star Trek, they just dictate their essays or letters.

At the same time, our work is almost always with us.  And given the speed at which the mobile market is changing, we can expect to be ever more connected.  Compartmentalization will becomes difficult and the lines between parts of life will blur.

It isn't that the 1960s were simpler time or that the 24th century is a technological utopia or that we are caught up in between.  It's nice to realize we as we move forward with our mobile tech, we need to keep an eye behind us and appreciate the changes taking place.

I know I would not want to go back to that time but I still like to sit and watch or read about that era.  

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