Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Talking the boss into social media? Those fears of hers are historic

Those bosses, clients and colleagues who don't want to try social media options are great at coming up with disaster scenarios and catastrophic consequences for what might happen. And that response is a time-honored one, used for every major new technology that's come along. So says a new book, I Live in the Future & Here's How It Works: Why Your World, Work, and Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted.

In this Marketplace Money interview with the author, New York Times technology reporter Nick Bilton , he goes back in history to describe some moments when fears about new technologies of the day turned out to be unfounded. Like the telephone:

The front page article: March 22nd, 1876, on the New York Times, describes what this technology is but then the writer says it's going to empty concert halls and churches and people will never leave their home again. The same thing we're hearing about the Internet, right -- people are going to use Twitter and Facebook and they'll never leave their home again or have social interactions.
Someone let me know where those empty concert halls are--I'd like to get a good seat. The printing press offers a great example of how new technologies can change things for the better--and move more slowly than the apocalyptic reactions  would have one think:
...when the printing press came out, it didn't change society instantly like we think that the printing press did. It wasn't until the 1500s, when a gentleman by the name of Aldus Manutius invented the mobile book. Before that, books were 50 to 100 pounds apiece. It took like two people to turn a page. And the mobile book really changed everything because you could take it with you. And I think the same things happened with mobile phones. For a long time, computers were the way that we accessed content and we sat in our bedroom or our office and we didn't leave. And people don't want to do that, they want to be out. These mobile devices that we all carry around I think have become that, essentially the mobile book of today.
They're good historic arguments to have in your back pocket for those necessary conversations to coax the unwilling to try new technologies. But there's hope out there:  Read this blog post, "The Old Man and the Internet," by Jay Goltz, a small-business owner in Chicago who's starting to get why his business future lies in more technology, not less.(Affiliate link)

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