I remember hearing stories. Stories of before my time, when the world was young and technology confined to gears and clear glass and keeping time. Tales of true horsepower, as opposed to fire-breathing mechanical monsters that have come to be entirely ubiquitous and blamed for much of our earthly problems.
Can you imagine a time before automobiles? Taste that word on your tongue. Say it slowly. *Automobile* — If you don’t get the flavor of an ancient time, an era of discovery, the inventing of a word to describe an entirely new thing, leading to a new age… then you must be lacking somehow.
There was a time when little boys heard the clang of brass bells and the clatter of hooves, and they rushed to the street to chase after a horse-drawn fire engine.
In the space of ten years or so, ninety percent of the horses in industrial nations lost their jobs.
I’ve never read a single account of what those times were like for people in the horse industry. Can you imagine how internal combustion engines coupled to steel frames and turning rubber clad wheels must have impacted those financially invested in animal power? Breeders, trainers, farriers, veterinarians, grooms, people who built facilities for housing equines, feeding equines, and disposal of equines, growers of hay and grain, and especially all of the people using horses for transportation, farming, delivery services, and status symbols.
Yes, status symbols. You don’t believe that a ‘67 Mustang was the first cool horse, do you? Why do you think they used the name?
There have been a lot of big things since the first 1903 curved dash Oldsmobile belched and farted its way down the cobbled streets of downtown New York City or San Francisco.
Jazz, Pop, Rap, and Grunge Rock. Hula Hoops, Skateboards, and banana seat Stingray bicycles. Chatty Cathy, Patty Playpal, Barbie, Cabbage Patch, and American Girl dolls. Transistor radios, portable CD players, iPods, and smart phones.
Every time I look at a kid on a bike, one of those with the seat lowered to the frame, I want to scream. Do they not understand how a higher seat works better, allowing the power in their legs to do a better job? And then there are the Hoverboards… no muscles necessary.
So much of the past technological change was driven by necessity. Something that improved the product, made it work better, last longer, be more reliable, cost less.
It is truly amazing how reliable things have become. They are either so badly made that they don’t function right out of the box… or they are really pretty darn good.
And THAT brings me to one of my favorite next big things. The power that consumers have to give feedback. You can read a review on any product made. I hope you realize how much power that gives you and that you use it wisely. Truly, the course of your future depends on the art of writing a review and whether the reviews get read.
I look at the vehicles going down the road today and see how they have changed due to customers using the power of their dollars to force change. Vehicles have power steering and brakes, get better mileage, have better sound systems, choices in wheels, and are more reliable because people buy these things and leave the vehicles without them on the lots.
But I have to say… I’m still waiting for that flying car that seemed so likely fifty years ago.