Monday, January 19, 2015

How Technology Changes Us

Every major technological advance exerts a biological change on humanity. In truth, the things we create, reshape us. Today we hear the frightening statistics on declining attention spans, expanding waistlines and shouts that the Internet makes people stupid. But this is nothing new. Each major technological advance has remade humanity. From our cultures to our biology, as we reshape our technology, we exert evolutionary pressures on ourselves.

One million years ago, the earliest humans napped stones to make hand axes. These axes made our ancestors much more effective meat eaters. It also increased caloric intake which allowed us to develop larger brains. Oddly enough, new research shows a connection between the parts of the brain involved in napping stones and the speech centers of the brain. It could be the simple act of banging rocks together (with incredible patience and precision!) is responsible for human speech.

Forty thousand years ago, humans started creating art. All over the world, Ice Age humans painted representations of animals and hunters on cave walls. Art was the moment where our species realized we could create representations of things that exist in the real world. We could capture a moment in time by using pictures. This small step opens the door to writing and math. The fact you are reading this is proof that those were significant advances.

Ten thousand years ago, our ancestors figured out farming and animal husbandry. This let them abandon their previous nomadic existence and let them settle down. This gave them more reliable sources of calories and, for the first time in history, created times of surplus. This freed up some of the society to specialize in tasks that would be useful. This change led to population growth which led to towns. Over time, towns grew into cities, and formal governments were born. This led to organized societies better able to manage resources and protect the citizenry. Which led to stability, which encouraged commerce, which increased wealth. You get the idea.

But the Agricultural Revolution had negative physical effects on our Neolithic ancestors. Because human diet and lifestyle changed, we know from archeological evidence that human height actually declined. When people started living off the land, they shrunk. To add insult to injury, it also shortened their lifespans too. Hunter-gatherers could live into their 30's, while Neolithic folks rarely made it to 20.

This is clear evidence of how our technologies change us. In the early stages, they cause us physical harm. It makes us shorter, dumber and we die younger; but only for a short span of evolutionary time! By the time of Ancient Rome, if you survived childhood, you had a fair chance of living into your 40's. The negatives were eventually overcome through a combination of new technologies (plumbing, hygiene, diverse diet) and human adaptation. In some ways the discovery of agriculture was a step backwards that allowed us to take several more steps forward.

The Digital Age is reshaping what it means to be human. Right now we are in the process of re-inventing humanity for this new technological age. As the discoveries of the Digital Age roll out in all their splendor, our species is being reshaped by new environmental pressures which will select for certain attributes. We will adapt, mentally and physically, to the new digital environments we craft. At first, it will have negative effects but, given time, those negatives will be surpassed. As a species, we will have to take a step backwards so we can leap into the future. 

Want to know more about the leap into the future? R-Squared Computing can help you prepare for tomorrow. 305-423-9574

R-Squared Computing | Lou RG | Nearly Free IT | Firm Wisdom

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Anonymous vs. ISIS

After the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, the cyber terrorist organization, Anonymous declared war on ISIS and all other terrorist organizations. They have pledge to disrupt terrorist websites and social media accounts. I applaud their efforts. Remember, the Boston Marathon bombers were first  radicalized online. Someone needs to stop the spread of that poison. I applaud Anonymous for taking this on and I hope it consumes all their energy. 

Personally, I like Anonymous. I agree they are a terrorist organization who can cause genuine harm, but usually don't. Many people have commented how they only really cause inconvenience by shutting down websites for a little while before declaring victory and running off to the next idealistic movement of the moment. And there is nothing I can say to negate those realities.

However, I love what they represent. Anonymous is the collective voice of the super-geek who believes in many of the same things I do. As such, they will always have a special place in my heart because they have the courage to fight back.

They are also that thread of juvenile delinquency that I find so lacking in modern youth. In typical childish manner, they make boastful threats and grandiose claims. They make their political statements loud and clear then make some poor IT department miserable for a week to ten days. They accomplish little, but are heard by millions.

Their targets and behavior prove that Anonymous overwhelmingly consists of angst-ridden teenagers. Good! Kids should be morons and jerks. They should be angry and they should fight. That is perfectly normal. I worry about the teenagers that aren't jerks. I'm convinced they're adolescent serial killer sociopaths, or something.

But, these Anonymous kids are non-violent. No one has died because of Anonymous. More Americans may know about ISIS, but enough know about Anonymous, too. They achieved that notoriety without beheading anyone or actually destroying any real property. Taking down a website is a nuisance, nothing more. It has nowhere near the same life altering impact as watching your family murdered, your village burned then being taken into sexual slavery which basically describes a fun ISIS Saturday.

So, while Anonymous is, by any definition, a terrorist organization, let's all agree that there are degrees of terrorism. Therefore, ISIS would be First Degree Terrorism because they are hurting real people and Anonymous would be Twentieth Degree Terrorism because they can really only inconvenience people.

However, ever day that a jihadist website is down or terrorist Twitter account silenced, is another day without the spread of destructive, hateful ideas. I hope they shut down all those damn terrorists, saving themselves for last.

R-Squared Computing | Lou RG | Nearly Free IT | Firm Wisdom

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Take a Social Media Marketing Class

For the past month or so, I have had the good fortune to be in Professor Maureen Lloyd-James' Social Media and Internet Marketing class at Johnson & Wales University North Miami campus.

As a self-described marketing moron, I was intimidated to be entering a class which boasted no text book. I'm old enough that such new fangled teacher-ing methods stink of witchcraft or hippie madness. The old prejudices that want to cling to a heavily bound, overpriced tome of knowledge have quickly evaporated, however. Aside from saving a small fortune in the bookstore, I have come to deeply respect the rapidly changing landscape of the digital marketing world.

The class lecture is fast paced and information dense. The Prof does not waste time and makes every second count. She assigns articles sourced from all over the internet describing various perspectives on the wiles of internet marketing. And, Professor Lloyd-James is happy to share useful online tools that extend our virtual reach.

All in all, it is a fascinating class. I am enjoying it immensely. I highly recommend anyone interested in learning more about this fascinating field of study to sign up for a class at their local university. You are never too old to learn something valuable. I have seen the positive impact of this course in my social media interactions already.

I can't wait for class tomorrow.

R-Squared Computing | Lou RG | Nearly Free IT | Firm Wisdom

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Nanomaterials & Manufacturing

A nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter. Once we enter the nano scale, we are dealing with a very tiny world. This is a world that cannot be seen with the naked eye, or even a regular laboratory microscope.

Once we engineer a material to the nanoscale, they start to take on strange properties which ultimately determine the value of those materials. Nanomaterials are being used today to make medicines more effective, make concrete stronger, and to assist with toxic waste cleanup.

Nanoscale materials can be absorbed by human beings either through ingestion, breathing and even through the skin. This poses some serious health risks from nanomaterials as we learn how they impact the human body over time. Even benevolent medicines can become poisonous in high enough doses.

The ultimate nanomaterial is graphene. This material has near unlimited applications in every aspect of business life. Every few days, scientists publish a new discovery based on graphene and its derivatives. Currently, graphene is insanely expensive but the price is coming down quickly as new manufacturing methods are developed. However, graphene will still need to drop a full order of magnitude before it can be economical for consumer applications.

Once graphene breaks this price-performance barrier, we will see an explosion of new applications. Now I come to the bigger point of this post: once we can commercially 3d print at the nanoscale, the whole $10 trillion global manufacturing changes. That is the game changer which disrupts the entire industry.

When anyone, anywhere can 3d print a smartphone, why do we need cheap Chinese factories? This is a continuation of deep global trend of annually increasing production and declining manufacturing jobs. This is at the heart of the change away from the Industrial Economy to the Network Economy. Three hundred years ago, 90% of the global population worked in agriculture, today it is 3%. Soon we will see the same happen with manufacturing, with the concurrent collapse and consolidation of most of the businesses in the manufacturing industry.

During times of great change, it is smart to have forward thinkers as part of your team. You need intelligent people who can see how these changes will impact your business so you can survive the coming storm. Contact us today to get started. (305) 423-9574

R-Squared Computing | Lou RG | Nearly Free IT | Firm Wisdom

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Digital First Impression

Don't go cheap on your website. Provide visitors with enough information to convince them to contact you. A half-assed website is the surest road to failure. It makes you look unimportant and unreliable. Kind of like a little kid in Dad's suit -- it might make me laugh but it doesn't fill me with confidence.

There are times to be frugal and times to be splendid. When it comes to your website, spend some money for something you can be proud of. Not something that will make me think you are a joke. First impressions are everything.

If you need help with your website, please contact me today. I am always happy to give you my first impressions for free. Call 305-423-9574 or email now.

R-Squared Computing | Lou RG | Nearly Free IT | Firm Wisdom

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