Going Digital

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The flies were most annoying. Each of us had our own swarm… “For the shade”, we teased. Aside from a cup of water, a bit of shade where the heat would climb above 110 degrees was the second most precious thing. The Australian Outback in the Nullarbor Plain of South Australia can be treacherously hot. 

Hiking into Wilpena Pound in the outback of South Australia was an adventure for which we were barely prepared. Technology in 1978 had yet to give us the assured safety of quick contact in the case of any kind of emergency. We had no telephone, and our basics of gas, food or water was limited to what we carried in our well used Volkswagen Beetle. Faith and ignorance can take you places you may not otherwise go. 

A small cave aged out of a weathered rock drew us to shelter from the sun. Aboriginal drawings as old as 20,000 years were on three sides of the cave. It wasn’t a written language that we understood but it was certainly an ancient communication shared long ago. How far we have come since these messages were splayed on a cave wall? 

It was 1455 when Johannes Gutenberg used a printing press to print the Bible. This would lead to the explosion of printing presses and the print media industry of the 19th and 20th centuries. The newspaper business with its print editions went crazy successful. Well, sure but, is anything truly sustainable? 

And now we are in the Digital Age. 

“Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.” is believed to be the first transmission sent by Alexander Graham Bell to his assistant Thomas Watson in 1876, over what would become the telephone. Though it could hardly be called ‘digital’ by today’s measures, it was an impressive step in that direction. 

107 years later October 29, 1969, a message was sent via  computer systems from UCLA to Stanford University. Though the  first attempt at connecting using the word “login” caused the   system to crash after the first two letters ‘lo’ were entered,  success came shortly thereafter. That technology is no longer  infant but has miles to go.  

Connecting 20,000-year-old Aboriginal cave drawings to digital communication today is a long stretch but there is a lesson in the advancements. Change is constant and guaranteed. When it occurs the habits of doing things the old way, because we’ve finally learned the language, stress the comfort of resisting change. The battles may rage for a time, but the change is inevitable. Perhaps for the betterment of all. We tend to be too complacent in our habits. 

Get on board. The easiest thing to do is nothing. It is also the wrong thing to do. In another ten years the advancements since the turn of the century, before smartphones and internet communication from home will make those failing to keep up with the new normal feel like cavemen in Manhattan, totally and completely lost. Digital is here and leaving the station whether we’re on board or not.

by Greg Henderson 

Greg Henderson is the retired founder of the Southern Oregon Business Journal. A University of Oregon graduate and a six year U.S. Air Force veteran. Contact him at ghenderson703@gmail.com

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