MY Hines

Do you have thoughts on what 2020 will look like?

Posted on: January 8, 2010

I flagged an email I received last week that I got from one of the numerous mailing lists that I get from InfoWorld. Honestly, I rarely open them up unless there is something in the subject line that makes me. This one was: 2020 Vision: What will tech look like in 10 years?. I know that it was written to be humorous, but it did bring up thought in my mind about what 2020 would look like for technology.

While there have been amazing strides in technology in the past decade, there are areas that the progress isn’t as amazing as it has been with televisions, storage devices, personal music devices, and web 2.0. The reality is, areas of technology that aren’t that “sexy’ don’t really get the advancements in them as there should be – they don’t grow as quickly as changes in storage has. 

I’m specifically thinking of some of the assistive technology devices that are out there. I have a coworker that had us install DragonSpeak for him a couple weeks ago. He knows this software so he knows the ‘funny’ things that happen with it. However, when I saw it and worked with it, I realized that it doesn’t seem to be that much better than it was when we were installing it on our computer lab downstairs. It doesn’t even work in the computer lab that well because it is too noisy. With all the advancements out there, why hasn’t DragonSpeak been able to address the “noisy background” issue yet? I can get my Blackberry to call numbers for me with my voice, usually with the radio still on – but if I have music on with DragonSpeak, it’s a no go. 

I hope that this is something that could be fixed in the next 10 years. I mean, there are lots of voice activated things out there, so this can’t be that hard, can it?  And maybe call it ‘pie-in-the-sky’ thought – but I would like to believe that in ten years the voice activated software has gotten to the point that it starts to recognize speach that isn’t perfect or better yet, be able to associate noise from a non-verbal person in order to perform a task.

I’m not discrediting what is out there – there are amazing technologies out there – but look at where the priorities are – on mass produced, consumer goods. There is now foul to that – I just want to see more – I need to see more.

I have to say the same thing about my new Livescribe pen. I do enjoy it a lot. It saves me a lot of work – but it is still not as easy as it seems on reviews and websites. You still have to spend a lot of time with it and you have to be consistent in your writing. The additional software I bought to send it to Word? I sometimes find it much easier to just retype than to go thru the process of fixing the mistakes that it brings over. Plus, it really cannnot handle any formatting issues at all. Boy, if that could just come up some more, life would be so simple. I’ve been using the signature pads for my credit card for a long time in stores and you know – it still looks like crap usually. To me, there needs to be a LOT of progress here.

There is also one other area that I hope improves in ten years and that is the knowledge of people. I know that the school students right now are learning so much more about computers than I ever did in school. I didn’t have computer class – it was just “Word Processing” which meant – typing. But sometimes I wonder if a person doesn’t truly have an interest in computers and they don’t want to enter a field that is “technical” if they actually get the education that is needed in the workplace.

I graduated from the School of Social Work with my Masters in Social Work and have to admit, outside of papers needing to be typed, technology wasn’t really used. I know that there is now more use of Blackboard applications and such and more classes are online, but I work with other social workers. I know that they are still not being told of the realities out there that when they get out in the field – they are going to have to know how to use technology. It would be so beneficial that schools start integrating technology into the knowledge of these college students. But it isn’t just knowing about Google and knowing about Microsoft. It is knowing what to do when what you are trying to do doesn’t work right. When you are in school, they have tech support – and tech support helps out. Can a nonprofit organization offer the same sort of tech support that a college does? Well, if you are huge, yeah, probably. But middle sized? How about small sized? Probably not. Bring the word troubleshooting into any education about technology. It is so important.

So while I loved the article’s humor and it did make me laugh, it made me really think about what progress can truly be made in ten years. I just hope that the three areas that I mentioned aren’t still as slow in change/advancement as I’ve seen them being in the past decade.

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