You may have seen the Jimmy Kimmel monologue this week that featured Marty McFly and Doc time traveling into the middle of his sound stage. It was perfectly timed and funny while noteworthy. The scene unfolded as they became shocked at how we had not yet figured out flying cars or even hover boards. They mused that maybe they had landed in an alternate future where humanity’s evolution had been stalled … Great Scot!
This scene made me think of the many comments I hear weekly about how current day technology tools fail us or make us less connected to others and are in general, a distraction. As if blaming the smart phone or pervasive wifi will make them go away. Sure, there are always going to be positive and negative aspects of any tool we use but … come on … this has always been the case.
When the first chalk board was unveiled, initial reactions were negative, noting that this new “technology" would encourage students to write on their own less and … even worse … might be encouraged to get out of their seats to write on this new surface. Or … when the pencil was first unveiled … imagine the distraction of not being tied to one place - your inkwell - to write. Well the next thing you know, folks will be just writing anywhere they want. Crazy innovation!
So … maybe it is more about how we adapt to change and innovation than whatever the actual tool is. I really have thought that we should have flying cars by now but … when I am on the freeway and see how my fellow citizens swerve and drive slow in the fast lane, I am less sure that flying cars are such a good idea.
We are now beyond the last “future” date from Back to the Future and despite what Marty and Doc Brown think . .. we are really fine technologically speaking. The film showed fax machines being used in the future … fax machines, really?
So now it is up to us to write the story of how we find a new path in business, education and our daily lives to be the ones that dictate how technology shapes our lives. When used with purpose, these high powered computers in our pockets can have a positive impact well beyond their inherent distractions.
Beyond Back to the Future disruptive technologies will continue to crash into our lives. Will we jump into our personal DeLorean’s and thoughtfully integrate what is new or will we look backwards and yearn for simpler times? Whether we control the academic technology of today and tomorrow or whether we are controlled by it is a key question as head out beyond Back to the Future. Just ask, WWDBD (What Would Doc Brown Do?)