Sometimes a name can make a big difference, it gives us something to talk about and refer to. I now want to describe a new name, or label. I will explain it with some personal history.
When I graduated as an Electrical Engineer from the University of Illinois in 1959, Electronics was just becoming established, although radio communications and radar had been a big part of WWII. The schools could not distinguish yet between electricity and electronics.
Electronics at that time involved vacuum tubes, and I became an expert in that technology. But the transistor came out at that time and made the vacuum tube obsolete. (One exception was the magnetron, a vacuum tube that generated microwave power, which is still in every microwave oven.)
But this was nothing compared to the digital computer, which made almost all previous technology obsolete. Our engineering department was scared of the things and did not offer a course on them. I was late to it myself, and worked for the next twenty years in the analog world.
Eventually, to make a long story short, I went to work in what we called high-tech in California in 1980. This was the combination of computers (digital of course) and software. Later the Internet made it all-important. But people remained ignorant of the whole thing.
They couldn’t understand this all-powerful new force – so they did the easy thing and pretended it didn’t exist, or that it wasn’t important. This was not smart.
They did not realize the profound difference between the analog world, which had been the world for over two hundred years, and the digital world, which was making it obsolete. They were sleep-walking into a new world that was going to make their own selves obsolete. And insisting that nothing bad was going on.
They would soon become new creatures, part human and part machine, and participate in their own destruction.
We are watching fascinating history, like nothing the world has ever seen before. But I only want to make one point in this posting – something new has happened to us – the Digital Revolution. And we need to start talking about it.