When you look back in time, think about the things that were “game changers”; things that forever impacted everything we knew or did; things that impacted our economy like climate change on our ecosystem.
Let’s consider the Industrial Revolution: It was a fundamental change in the way goods were produced, and altered the way people lived. It was a major turning point in world history. Factories came to life; farms started to disappear and corporations emerged. The assembly line was born, making for faster creation, faster repairs, and cheaper prices. This benefited the consumers, the corporations and the individual workers. People moved to cities, the middle class was established, and nothing was ever the same.
Just as the Industrial Revolution took the U.S. from an agricultural nation to one rich with manufacturing, the 20th Century took us from a robust industrialized nation to a High Tech Powerhouse with the advent of the Internet. Information was suddenly at our fingertips. Over the years, the World Wide Web replaced, or at least diminished, many other forms of communication such as newspapers, radio/TV broadcasts and even good old-fashioned conversations! The huge bound Britannica Encyclopedia set in our 1970’s living rooms became an artifact as more and more information became accessible on demand through our (rather large) desktop computers. The rapid innovation of the 80’s and 90’s, which included rudimentary video games, PCs and mobile phones further changed the way we worked, played and lived on a day-to-day basis.
So, enter in the 2000s and what do we have? The Internet on speed. Hyper connected to everything and everyone, making digital communication the preferred and most widely accepted form of communication out there. It affects the postal system (no more writing letters or sending checks to creditors.) And though advertisers shifted their focus to the web instead of print, NOW they have to contend with dwindling attention spans and advertising on mobile devices; devices which are rapidly evolving and might one day make the traditional Desktop or laptop obsolete! It’s like we’re on a race that can’t be won -- Cyber schools, social media, Google Glass, iPhone 6…
As a Gen Xer who came into this wonderful world before cable, touch-tone phones and the tech burst (I think “Pong” is the only “high-tech” thing I had in the 1970’s), it is mind blowing to realize how much we’ve had to adapt, both as a consumers and as corporations, to the ever changing rules of engagement.
Now, a technology that has been around for a few decades, but is finally gaining traction, promises (threatens?) to change life as we know it. AGAIN. So, what is it?
3D Printing. Also known as additive manufacturing or rapid prototyping, 3D printing vows to change EVERYTHING – our entire manufacturing system could turn on a dime if this technology gets tweaked and can produce what it claims it can produce. 3D printing is set to revolutionize manufacturing. Also called additive manufacturing, 3D printing is a way to make three-dimensional objects from digital models. While 3D printers have been around for 30 years, it’s only been in the last year or two that they have become efficient, accessible, and even commonplace.
Production of toys, jewelry, cars, plane/ship parts, casts and even functioning human organs could be (and some already can be!) produced using the right mix of software and materials. No more tracking down and ordering parts. No more waiting for that organ to be donated. No more manufacturing plants? Uh oh, what happens to the middle class worker? See? It changes EVERYTHING.
Sound crazy? Even impossible? Click below to see examples of this fascinating process:
This IS coming. In fact, it is already here. What's going to take it from where it is now to where is promises to be? Technology. Software. YOU. We will see the software that is the brains and power behind this technology evolve exponentially over the next few years. Learn how to code. Be a part of the change.
Like many Americans, I pay a premier (as in completely insane) monthly rate for my cable, internet access and VOIP to one of the biggest corporate conglomerations, Comcast (aka Time Warner.) I don’t even USE the VOIP! I only have it because it was cheaper to “bundle” it. Seriously, go ahead and ask me what my home number is…because I have NO IDEA. I may as well have a non-functioning rotary phone hanging on my wall at this point.
Why do I do this? Well, because they are the best game in town. I’ve tried Verizon FiOS (no thanks) and even satellite TV (hated it!). I also survived the age of dial up and subpar ISP providers – and I’m not going back. I blindly pay my ludicrous bill each month because my technology and media needs clearly deserve the hefty price tag. Right?
Maybe not…Comcast and Time Warner, who have basically operated unchallenged for years, are now facing the biggest threat of the decade, of the century (drum roll please!)
What’s Google fiber, you ask? Well, it’s only a 1 Gbps mega connection that is up to 100 times faster than today's average broadband speeds. Straight from Google’s mouth: “At up to 1,000 Mbps, Google Fiber is 100 times faster than today's basic broadband, allowing you to get what you want instantaneously. You no longer have to wait on things buffering; everything will be ready to go when you are. So whether you are video chatting, uploading family videos, or playing your favorite online games, all you need to do is click and you're there.” Google essentially guarantees is can download just about anything – games, photos, music, and HD movies – in 3 seconds. Three seconds!! (Well, movies take a whopping 7 seconds.) Current download speeds (using traditional broadband) for these types of files can range from 66 seconds to well over 20 minutes!
Comcast claimed not to be threatened, but when Google Fiber moved in and essentially took over Kansas City, KS, Comcast instantly boosted its speed times for its customers (free of charge), in a futile effort to remain competitive. Unfortunately for them, it didn’t work - a survey by Wall Street analyst Bernstein Research discovered Google Fiber has signed up almost 75% of homes offered the gigabit fiber-to-the-home service (Dampier, 2014).
Excited? There’s more. It’s cheaper than standard cable – a lot cheaper. And your remote? It’s an app that you run on your phone or tablet! You can store all your stuff in one place and it offers 1 Terabyte of storage to boot. Oh, and you can record up to 8 shows simultaneously with their DVR capability.
Right now it’s “under construction” in Austin Texas, with other cities planned and a whole list of other “potential” cities. Check out the site, use the “Check address” function, and see if your town is next!