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OPINION:
Technology Redefined

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Contributed by Stanislav Kelman
osOpinion.com
January 10, 2001


When the "high-tech sector" is discussed, you can bet that Lockheed Martin will not make the list, but eToys.com might.

In This Story:

Getting the Terms Straight

What's Hot, What's Not

Technology in the News

A couple of weeks ago I got a random call from a recruiter who happened to stumble upon my resume somewhere in the deep realms of the Internet. He was wondering if I would want to explore certain "exciting" opportunities. I said that I might.

He then noted in passing that he was looking for "qualified high-tech professionals" and started to ask questions about my experience and skills.

But suddenly, he totally lost interest. You see, it wasn't just any kind of technology workers he was looking for -- just those in information technology.

Getting the Terms Straight

This seemingly irrelevant story brings me to the very subject of this editorial. It seems to me that behind all the hype and buzzwords, we have somehow lost sight of what technology stands for and what it is supposed to bring into our lives. Perhaps, now that the new Millennium is finally upon us, this age-old topic is worth revisiting.

So, let me start with the basics. According to the Random House Webster's Dictionary, the term in question is derived from a Greek word technologia. One of the many broad definitions that are given is that technology is "the sum of the ways in which social groups provide themselves with the material objects of their civilization."

Incidentally, nowhere in the dictionary is it mentioned that technology and computers are one and the same. Which makes me wonder as to why this seems to be the prevailing perception of the modern society.

What's Hot, What's Not

Wherever you look, there is a large emphasis being made on the Internet and telecommunications, while almost all the other branches of technology are literally being ignored.

Biotech makes a little splash every now and then, but industries dealing with "minor" things like deep space exploration, ballistic missile defense, nuclear power generation, and superconductivity are almost totally off the public's radar.

Pay a visit to TechNewsWorld.com, a sister site of osOpinion which collects links to technology news from around the globe, and you will see exactly what I mean. Even after browsing through hundreds of stories, you will be hard pressed to find a single mention of the latest mission to Mars.

Consequently, when the "high-tech sector" is discussed, you can bet that Lockheed Martin will not make the list, but eToys.com might as well. Very few people really know what Lockheed does, but one can be sure that eToys has a wide selection of Barbie dolls at discount prices.

Technology in the News

These days, a lot of the "technology reporting" revolves around the stock performance of various companies rather than their products. None of the almost 3,000 breakthrough patents that IBM receives each year are ever mentioned, yet a slight fluctuation in the company's valuation is immediately commented upon. In the nation of day traders, few actually understand technology, but everybody follows the Nasdaq.

And, as of late, it's not even the stock prices that are taking the spotlight, but rather the endless string of lawsuits. Everybody is suing everybody. Governments are going after monopolies, real and imaginary. Companies file suits and countersuits alleging patent infringement. Common folks read these stories with much interest without having a slightest clue about the technical issues involved.

To top it all off, disgruntled shareholders of "dot-bombs" seek legal action against companies claiming that directors have somehow tricked them into buying the stock. I suggest that failed former multi-billionaire CEO's of these struggling e-commerce outfits should get together and countersue day traders for irresponsible behavior. That would be the real judgment day!

As for technology well, who cares about technology? Watching stock tickers and reading legal briefs is a lot more fun anyway.

Talkback Forum


Author's background:
Stanislav Kelman is a mechanical engineer by education and trade, and a computer enthusiast in his spare time. He maintains a list of his past technology-related editorials on TechOpinion.org. He also invites you to visit LetItBe.org, a site where you can learn more about him than you might care to know. Stanislav would love to hear your reaction to his opinion columns, so feel free to drop him a line at osOpinion@LetItBe.org.

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