Everyone knows that technology is meant to make our lives easier. Arthur Clarke (English physicist and sci-fi author) wrote back in 1961 that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” A pretty insightful comment for its time, and one that continues to get more relevant as technology advances. I might also add, however, that the most advanced technology is one that everyone can use. Its power (and magic) lies in its simplicity.
I’ve mentioned before that I work in IT. Often, I get a twang of jealousy when I see the sort of wonders truly talented people can develop and create using technology. Back in early December, I took a Visual Studio and .NET framework course, so I could better understand some of the day-to-day tools the developers I work with employ. Perhaps the most valuable learning from that course is that development not only requires skill and knowledge, the best developers are gifted with talent. The software, language (VB or C#), and programming .concepts are all relatively easily trained. Applying those tools and concepts to automate tasks, integrate systems and improve productivity comes not only with experience, but with an inherant ability to think in a certain way. Skills gained from experience can account for a lot… but the best have talent.
So where does that leave the rest of us? Writing simple ‘select’ queries in SQL? Nah… While developing applications and building their frameworks require a certain talent, they pale in comparitive importance to the innovative ways people like you and me use those applications and frameworks. The whole point of Web 2.0 is about the online community. The more people who use the tool the better. People employ Twitter, for example, in ways I’m sure their developers never even dreamed about. The same can be said of Facebook, LinkedIn, and just about any of the most advanced technology out there. Their power lies in simplicity, and the users and community that take what the development teams provide, and turn it into something bigger and better.