By Anitra Cottledge
Occasionally, when I’m given a blog prompt, I go to my Facebook and/or Twitter for what I like to call “Audience Participation Time.” I ask my friends and followers what they think about a particular question or issue. So when I realized my topic du prompt was about the best advances in technology this year/this decade, I was very curious about what other people thought.
I have to say…I was very surprised by the response I got from other folks.
Before I get to that, let me share my own personal thoughts about the prompt. As you might imagine, it’s difficult to pin down one or two or even five top technological advances that have occurred in the last year or even the last decade. I think part of this difficulty is due to the fact that technology changes so quickly these days, that it’s simply hard to keep track. When I think about the technology that has really impacted my life, a common theme is “portability.” What a lot of technology in the last decade has done for many of us is make it much easier to take our media – books, music, film, – with us without too much fuss. I’m talking about iPods, iPads, and e-readers, etc. Who among us has some sort of iPod, or MP3 player, and also remembers your first one? Do you remember how revolutionary it was to walk around with a good chunk of your musical library in a small device that you could put into your pocket? Even as these things have been refined and made even smaller, even faster, even flashier, it’s still pretty amazing that technology has been able to take us from Walkmans to Discmans to MP3 layers, and in a very short period of time, to boot.
I will also go on record as saying, despite my initial reservations about e-readers, Kima (my Kindle Fire) is a godsend when I travel. I’m the kind of traveler for whom having several reading options is a must. Now, I can take a mini-library with me when I travel instead of having to choose one or two books (that I will probably finish too quickly).
Another common theme is convenience. It helps to be able to pay bills online, to order any number of things online, to schedule blog posts and tweets and Facebook statuses ahead of time. (I continue to be fascinated by the ways that the internet and technology in general simultaneously save us time and steal our time.)
Those where the things I was thinking about. Thus, I was expecting to hear echoes of that from other people. And while some people did mention their iPads and laptops, the clear winner that I heard from other people was Roku.
I never saw that coming. But I suppose it makes sense: Roku fits right in with those themes of portability and convenience. With Roku, you can stream all sorts of media and services to your TV: Amazon.com Instant Video, Hulu, Netflix, HBO GO, TED talks, games like Angry Birds, Pandora, etc.
Most people who responded said that Roku was the piece of technology they couldn’t live without, and most interesting, that it signals the end of cable TV. I don’t use Roku, but now this round of Audience Participation Time has me considering it. And now, I’m curious to see what, in fact, does happen to cable TV if more people start using Roku.
What about you? What do you think are the best technology advances in the last year or decade?