Three years ago I had written an article on the three most inspiring technologies in my routine. The personal impact of those three items still by far prevails over any other technologies I can recall.
Meanwhile, the theme of last week’s Kraków Toastmasters meeting centered precisely around inspirational technologies. During the various exercises, participants indicated their own views on the matter. I heard accounts of email, SMS messaging, smart phones, contact lenses, transcription engines, among others as trends of particular impact to the individual.
After some thought, I wish to expand upon my original list. As previously, I remind that this list concerns only those items of personal inspiration, and not necessarily of any long-term profound impact on the world.
- Bulletin Board Systems. Until the late 90’s, before the gradual deployment of the world wide web that we know today, BBSs experienced notable popularity as alternative portals to upload/download software, participate in chat rooms, play online text games, and other functions that the simple ASCII-based interface could facilitate over a dial-up connection. BBSs represented my first access to any massive online interaction medium, before the IRC chat protocol even, before I knew how to properly type, and played tremendous impact on me at the time.
- Napster, 1999. At a time period when I interchanged between tapes and compact disks for music listening, storage space was fairly constrained and the idea of storing music on a hard disk didn’t yet gain popularity. Napster, once launched, not only introduced me to the incredibly compact (compared to anything personally experienced) MP3 format, but provided the first means to download such music at a massive scale, never mind that still largely constrained to incredibly slow downloads and 128Kbps quality audio. Along with BBSs, I recollect extreme dopamine rushes at concluding a download after hours of suspense and uncertainty whether the connection will sustain the procedure.
- Motorola Razor phone. It spoke Cyber Punk. This particular design became one of the very few to actually impress me in it’s aesthetics.
- Blackberry Perl. My favorite phone of all time. The compact 5X4 keyboard was larger than the traditional 10-key simple-phone number pad. As such, each key only doubled for two letters, rather than three, which facilitated an impressively accurate auto-complete feature and didn’t require the multi-press interaction (also a first in my experience). It combined aesthetics, compactness, along with the traditional Blackberry straight-to-the-point interaction in one pleasant-to-hold device. I carried one for seven years… and then one day, left it on a bus seat. Along with the Razor flip phone, the two marked the first and one of the last occasions since the Sony Discman that I simply marvelled at holding a piece of compact electronic equipment.
- E-readers. I don’t much care for them and have gradually re-cultivated paper book reading. But at one point, the idea of travelling with a collection of 1000-page novels in one compact E-Link screen device, that, most importantly, didn’t irritate my sensitive vision, I considered as innovative as space travel.
That’s all that presently comes to mind. Somehow or other, arguably far more impacting developments among Quantum Computing, Biohacking, Virtual and Augmented technologies, wearable computing, Mars colonization, alternate energy, AI, or robotics, while powerful in the intellectual sense, no longer stimulate that child-like fascination as the items on my list.