EDITORIAL: Technology Shaping

Technology Shaping

A Scenario

“The clock has gone past eleven thirty, it will be midnight in twenty five minutes, the end of the bank holiday Friday, in the west, known as Good Friday (well that is according to the Gregorian Calendar but not necessarily accepted as the end of day by some). There was brief showers of rainfall on a few occasions this week, farmers rejoiced,’the season is finally here, the season is here!’, the ground received much needed water necessary for the agricultural cycle of growing crops and rearing animals. The last three months very little rainfall was recorded at the meteorological office in Point Salines. To many, the rainfall signals the end of the drought that has been on the nation for the last three months. Some say it is the rainfall from heaven for a child of God that passed away, and was laid to rest earlier in the week. It is a quiet night for a bank holiday weekend. The dog can be heard whimpering on the steps, to the back up of a choir of kites singing in the night skies, left by the youths earlier in the day. It is the easter weekend and a time where the local tradition is to fly a kite, locally crafted in a way, when the wind hits a particular place it vibrates loudly, the sound locally known as a ‘singing kite’. To be fair, this is the first easter season the wind is blowing at sufficient strength to keep a kite afloat in the sky. As the sun set in the horizon, the youths would tie the kites they had been flying all day, unto a tree or something firm, and the kite would be left there flying noisily throughout the night, unless the wind strength faded.

There is a relaxing wind blowing through the windows and the door that was left ajar. Fingers meet keys on the keyboard, not particularly typing what would be preferred, but typing what is deemed as necessary. Not everyone likes to enjoy a weekend party, and not everyone can enjoy working through a bank holiday weekend. Those who do not appreciate something, should not prevent someone else from appreciating that thing. The clock hanging majestically over the dining table says it is nine thirty, but a glimpse on the screen and one is reassured that it has already gone past midnight. From earlier in the day the internet login dial has been throwing an error, ‘simultaneous session limit reached.’ Okay, considering there is only one device connecting to the internet with these credentials, and two calls were already made earlier in the day to the service provider, it is cause for concern. It is also a cause for concern that it is not the first time this is happening. Well, let us say it is not a cause for concern. We should not be concerned whether or not someone has access to the internet.

Let us not be concerned of the internet service connections. For instance, if someone is a software developer, one would only have to wait, let us say until Tuesday for one’s internet connection to be restored, to carry on work – providing the work involves updating a website, let us not be concerned. In the case of e-commerce where a customer can visit a website to make a purchase, and you are the vendor, you would have to wait until Tuesday to know someone has made a purchase. Let us not be concerned of how bad internet affects business, or seriously limits the opportunities for development of technological skills amongst the nation. One would go back to listening the choir of kites, it does not look as if any live programming is going to get done over the weekend. Pity the boss! ‘Oh, the internet was not working!’ “

Trying to move forward

 Technology as defined by Collins dictionary is the application of practical mechanical sciences. Practical is defined by the same book which tries to exact a statement to the meaning of a word as given to action rather than theory. The dictionary used the terms sensible and realistic to be close enough in meaning to practical. The statement put forward by the same dictionary to be exact in meaning as mechanical is acting without thinking. Science as we know is any area of study which deals with observing material or tangible facts. If we are to remove some of these complex words and break down the term technology into simple layman terms we can say technology is the application of a sensible or realistic action that can be performed without much effort on the brain or without having to think too much in dealing with material facts. Putting it even simpler we can say technology is anything that makes everyday chores simpler.

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Cuisine of Enslaved Africans – Image from Black Then

An everyday chore of living life as a normal human being is eating or the consumption of food, which is a necessary fuel for energizing the human body. In Grenada, if we were to go back seventy years ago, or maybe even one hundred years ago to be safe, we would find that meal time would be very different to nowadays. On the dining table we would have cutlery made out of common natural materials. For instance a bowl would have been made from a calabash, and a cup or a glass for holding liquids would have been taken from a bamboo plant. Spoons and forks would have also have been substituted, with fingers playing the role of knife, spoon and fork. You can imagine what it would have been like being served your meal piping hot from the copper pot on the fire side outside. Fast forward to today and we have meals cooked inside on electric or gas cookers being served in ceramic plates and bowls, with silverware forks, knives and spoons to assist in the eating process. The method used one hundred years ago to eat was technology. Fast forward one hundred years to today and we have advanced technology for eating. The food from it leaves the pot, touches no other body parts, except the mouth, where it is intended for. It is hard to think the individual or individuals that who came up with the this method, that is, invented knives, spoons and forks did not increase greatly in wealth from these remarkable innovations.

One hundred years ago, the way humans humans communicated – another common everyday chore associated with life as a normal human being – was very different to the way humans communicate with each other today. We would have acquired the art of writing using ink and paper, which would have been transported to the recipient via the available means of transportation of the day. Since the invention of the personal computer and a great Englishman, by the name of Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee invented a communication protocol that enabled two or more computers to communicate with each other, communication between human beings have transformed. A range of tools called Information Communication Technology tools have been created to meet this communication trend between humans.

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Internet Cafe – Image taken from Open Photo

Communication nowadays seem to have at least two machines or computers between the communicators. For instance, Person A wishes to write a letter to Person B, therefore, Person A writes a letter on a device, whether it is a laptop, personal computer, or smartphone, clicks on the send button and Person A will probably assume the message was sent to Person B. Person A might even receive a prompt on the device reassuring them the message has been sent to Person B, when in fact Person A sent a message to a machine, and the machine has the responsibility of relaying the message or letter to another machine, where Person B can have access to the message or letter. If we are to compare an oral message from a written message we have a situation where Person A talks to device such as a phone, the device or phone sends the oral message to another device or phone, where Person B would be able to listen to the message. If you were to ask Person A, who they are talking to, they would probably say person B, when in reality they are talking to a device or a phone. Despite the machines in-between the communicators, the message is relayed much faster using this technology than one hundred years ago.

The traditional cutlery used in eating was affordable, and the modern cutlery used in eating is also affordable. The traditional method of communication using ink and paper was affordable, so why is it, the modern method of communication remains unaffordable? Not even is it only unaffordable, but can we even class the modern form of communication as technology here in Sunset City? The definition of the word technology included the terminology, realistic. Realistic or sensible.

Let us go back to Person A communicates with Person B scenario. Person A compiles a message, clicks send and receives a prompt stating the message has been sent to Person B. Rewind back one hundred years and the price for sending this message to Person B would be based on the weight of the message, that is, the weight of the pages used to relay the message. Today this ‘weight’ of message is measured in bytes – kilobytes, megabytes and even gigabytes. A message containing a paragraph with only text would be a few bytes or kilobytes in size or ‘weight’.

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The emergence of digital media recorders capturing high definition audio, video and images means a message would rarely be under one megabyte in size. Many businesses and individuals used the internet to relay useful information to customers and potential customers using a mixture of audio, video, text and images. Many internet users, customers and potential customers find a mixture of media to be very engaging. Some even utilise video technology for learning, as they have the freedom to pause, fast forward and rewind as they please – features that are not available in a classroom scenario. To access these engaging media content, an internet connection is often required, which is normally available at a price, whether the price is reasonable or unreasonable.

Here in Grenada, a local Internet Service Provider would allow someone to access the internet via their infrastructure at the price of $2.99 EC a day or $2.99 for transferring fifty megabytes of data or information. That is about correct, $2.99 EC for fifty megabytes of data transferred. Simply put for $2.99 EC, one would be able to view about five seconds of a video file online or fifteen images on a website. Some business or individuals even require downloading an application for accessing these online media content. Stories have been told of users expiring fifty megabytes of data in less than five minutes. We have also heard stories of users expiring fifty megabytes of data accessing a single web-page on a website. Is this realistic in an era where communication is being driven be these Information Communication Technology tools that requires an almost constant connection to the internet?

A student doing research or following a tutorial on an internet video channel would exhaust this limit in under a minute, sometimes without even being able to view the appropriate information. Is this realistic? Can we truly say truly say we are living in a technological era, when the meaning of the word technology includes the terminology realistic? Is viewing ten seconds of a five minute video realistic in obtaining information? Is viewing five images on a single page on a ten page website realistic in obtaining information? Can we truly say we have realistic modern communication technology tools in Grenada? Can we truly say we have information communication tools in Grenada?


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