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Douglas Adams - 3 Rules that Describe Our Reactions to Technologies

Chris Dixon unearthed a great quote from Douglas Adams on the nature of technological adoption that unsurprisingly hits the mark in our ever changing and evolving world:

  1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
  2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
  3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things

Some that come to mind: horse to car, index card to online search, PC to mobile, web to app, portal to messaging, Newton to Einstein, oil to electric, rock to rap, Aquinas to Bacon, buying to renting, files to streaming, network TV to cordkilling, broadcast to social, programming CPUs to programming biology, server to cloud, vm to container, wired to wireless, long read to TLDR, privacy to public to ephemeral, paper based news aggregation to digital aggregation, checks to online banking, gold to fiat to bitcoin, linear to exponential growth, large to small teams, to a world that ignores you to a world the responds to you, nation states to who knows what, a military of people to a Military of Things, and weekly versus binge watching. Any others?

Reader Comments (6)

1.) steroids to gene doping to ???
2.) gas/diesel car to hybrid/electric car to self driving car
3.) drug smuggling via mules to drug smuggling via unmanned submarines to ???
4.) ethernet to wifi to LTE to pCell/5G???
5.) maps to gps to indoor-location via BLE

This list can go on forever, it is said the rate of technical evolution will accelerate for a while and right now we are even in a period of positive technical evolution jerk

March 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRussell Sullivan

I want to enjoy technology and inventions till 50. I want to make career in JavaScript now at 34. I believe I would learn new technologies till 45.

March 11, 2014 | Unregistered Commentershekup

"Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things"

I hate @$$holes like this. 'Only the young belong in technology' Piss off, just because you lay down and die doesn't mean
all of us do.

March 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterajax

I tend to agree with ajax, if (and only if) that is the understanding of the reader.

I think however that this meaning wasn't the intention of D.A. and he simply used exaggeration here to make a point. Just ask yourself, how many people in your business, and even more in your personal environment would fit into that picture? There are quite a lot.

Where I absolutely agree is, to what extent one thinks of himself whether or not he/she keeps up with technology is nothing more than a mental question. I too believe, and I know people who would been considered retired by conservative standards yerars ago, yet they are vital, sometimes more active than the youngsters (when was the last week you worked from 4 am to midnight?) and still doing projects and deals big time.

They simply refuse to stop themselves for such nonsense arguments like "being too old". Unfortunately, 95% of all people do exactly that.

March 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenternot you

Card catalogs to computerized search terminals to Amazon to The Pirate Bay

March 20, 2014 | Unregistered Commentereinnocent

Douglas Adams was a great writer and loved technology and gadgets.

Ignorant knee-jerk reactions of those like those of ajax can piss off

October 21, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdav0id

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