Archive for June, 2018

A brief history of Fearing Change

June 9, 2018

“The past is a rich resource on which we can draw in order to make decisions for the future”
Nelson Mandela


The graph above highlights the past century of technology change we have seen and it reminded me of the way that we often respond to change.

Consider this timeline of human thought about historical changes in technology:

  • 370 BC: Writing is making us stupid.
  • 1005: Chess is banned in Egypt as it encourages gambling.
  • 1816: Kaleidoscopes are distracting people from the real world.
  • 1880: Bicycles are the most dangerous thing to life and property ever invented.
  • 1888: Novel reading is a ‘mischief’ like drinking. (1907: Too many novels are being read by young people)
  • 1895: X-rays will prove to be a hoax.
  • 1896: Excessive riding of bicycles induces insanity.
  • 1896: Horseless carriages (cars) lack the intelligence of a horse to guide their path.
  • 1904: Brain doctor warns of elongated brains from driving automobiles: “It remains to be proved how fast the brain is capable of traveling.”
  • 1914: Electric lights are keeping people up and addicted to ‘night life’.
  • 1926: Colour films will never take the place of black and white. What’s the pointof Technicolor.
  • 1929: Talking films with gramophones will never beat silent films with live musicians.
  • 1936: Ban on radios in cars is urged for public safety.
  • 1938: Too much reading is harmful.
  • 1939: Kids are spending too much time listening to the radio and not enough time outside playing.
  • 1948: Comic books are turning children into murderers.
  • 1951: Telephones are killing love letters.
  • 1958: Teenagers are addicted to telephones
  • 1965: The abacus is better than a computer because it’s so much simpler.
  • 1976: Pocket calculators can’t beat the abacus.
  • 1977: Watching television causes brain damage
  • 1977: Cashless Society and electronic funds transfer will never be accepted.
  • 1982: Video games should be banned by law.
  • 1984: The Slide rule is as fast as a calculator and its batteries won’t run out.
  • 1984: Teaching children to program with computers will create a “culture of psychopaths” for a “meagre job market”.
  • 2018: Social media, smart phones, video games, etc., etc., etc.
  • 2030: Virtual Reality (VR) turns people into junkies.

Or in summary

Change In short.png

Finally, if you are still worried about our world today, I think a quick glimpse at some more data visualising the important progress we have made in the last two centuries is a good reminder that, really, everything is going just fine …

Two centuries of change.jpeg

(If you are interested, there are many, many more terrific graphs from Our World in Data.)