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always a beginner

These days things happen too fast to even register with some people.  In Russia DVD’s came and went within a span of just a couple of years, literally. In the late 1990’s they were a new hip technology that few people could afford and then before we knew it they were supplanted by blue-ray and broadband downloads. Then there’s the mobile phones – I can still remember the time when their displays were black and white and today there’s people who won’t even give a mobile phone a second glance unless it has the latest type of touch screen.

And in this whirlwind of constant change, whenever I open a book on some latest technology or gadget that I’ve just downloaded off the internet in a first draft version even before it officially hits the shelves of brick and mortar book stores (let alone gets translated into Russian), I can’t help getting a creeping feeling that by the time I’ve finished reading it this technology will be obsolete. Things are just moving too fast these days.

Thus I will often end up just looking at the table of context and the index at the back and just picking and choosing the bits and pieces I happen to need at this particular moment and more often than not the rest of the book never gets read.

Do I have a chance to ever become an expert in any new technology? I doubt it. Is there really enough time for anyone to become an expert in something these days? Well, perhaps, if it’s psychology or something equally fundamental that’s part of the human nature or just nature, like physics, then probably the answer is yes. Acquiring expertise takes time, so if the subject of your expertise is pretty much constant then you can probably pull it off. However, if it’s something is fast-moving and fluid as technology or ICT, then the best you can hope for is becoming an expert at your job, the stuff you do day in and day out and which is bound to be obsolete by the time your company lets you go.

So what do we do? In white water rafting it is said that you have to be moving faster than the current if you want to retain at least some degree of control. The problem of moving faster than the lightening speed changes in technology these days is that unlike white water rafting, you don’t know where you’re supposed to be moving and thus there’s a very good chance that you might end up moving very fast but in a very wrong direction. Happens all the time. Thus as the pace of life increases, we’re slowly but surely being turned into gamblers who’re doing it not of their own volition but simply because we’v got no other option.

Well perhaps there’s the option of abandoning technology altogether and going into maths and social sciences. Mathematised social sciences seem to be one of those next big things, you predict the social dynamics with maths and then make all the right moves and get rich. And as for technology, well, perhaps you feel you can keep up with it and even outpace it, but if it’s just too much, maybe it’s time to call it quits and concentrate on something else.

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