How often do we check out the new technology in the industry?  How often do you seriously look into developing and designing for it?  Stop and think for a moment…

I live in the Seattle area, home for Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Boeing, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and so many other companies.  We are in a rich area for wonderful new gadgets like the new touchscreen watches and augmented-reality glasses.  We’ve large-screen touch walls in our airports and in the Redmond area and there are classrooms which gain access to new and even pre-launched technology within the K-12 public school systems.

Large companies hire agencies to work with them on new-tech implementation and we all drool when new tech comes out and try jumping on top of it as a way to stay with the current times in tech.


The not-so-innovative reality

While there is nothing inherently wrong with staying current, we would be kidding ourselves if we somehow managed to be convinced that the world runs and works off of these new gadgets.

Let’s break it down a bit: These gadgets require glass (for instance).  This glass is created from very specific types of sand which is being dredged from the ocean and illegally from major rivers before it is transformed into glass.  The buildings we work in require steel and concrete foundations.  Trees are cut down and brought to lumber yards to cut the wood into usable boards.  Our garbage is picked up for us and we don’t even have to think much about it.  There are environmental concerns and safety concerns, the planet wide.  Industry is the majority of the world, not our little gadget-driven bubble of high-tech thinking.

These industries and many more contain employees – people – who operate machinery.  These are people who are scared to touch a keyboard with more than 1 finger at a time, who are still considering these cool touch-screen phones as new.

What is my point?

While I consider newer-tech work to be incredibly fun and something I wish to continue doing, I’d rather spend the majority of the time helping the ‘real world’.  Most of the ‘real world’ is down to earth, ran by hard working individuals whose businesses run off of ‘serious’ legacy systems which may have seen little to no change in the past 10 years.

While we focus on making bigger and cooler technology, these industries are still operating on systems which were built to run on Windows 98, XP or old linux systems.  Don’t kid yourself into thinking this isn’t the case.  It IS.  This is the ‘real’ world rather than the digital one.

Person being high-fived by a kitty
High-Five to real-world devs!

I’d like to make a shout out to those of you who are on development and support teams for real-world operations.  You are often under-funded, underpaid and working with some of the most painful technology available.   Keep on keeping on.  You rock.

For those of you who aren’t? This is my message to you: Think about what sort of impact you could be having to help upgrade or enhance an archaic and under-usable library system which may enable people to gain more access and understand how to check out books more easily.  Think about how you could help by being on a project which directly enables hundreds if not thousands of children to be able to feel a greater sense of confidence in themselves.  Imagine helping to upgrade a company – a company which produces innovative safety features in the pavement people drive on daily.  Things you don’t necessarily think much about, but are essential to the lives of more people than you could count.

And if you are able to help, you’ll end up working with systems which are incredibly old, databases which need to be reworked, all-the-while helping people do the work which is important to them. You’ll be making it possible for companies to find things better and paving smoother ways to do things and hopefully building confidence in what they are doing while using their technology.  Will the tech be cool, new and shiny?  Probably not to you, but the impact will be felt by more people than you could imagine.

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