Wednesday, September 4, 2013

One Hand Clapping

The meaning of “technology”—back when I was a paid a salary to analyze of same—was such things as plastics, solid lubricants, and automated machine tools. Today it means hand-held devices, the smartphone—AKA “mobility.” And mobility has come to mean the power to see the very latest postings on one’s Facebook or Twitter pages in what is known as real-time.

Now the latest rash of news is all about such entities as Blackberry, which is looking to be bought, Verizon buying Vodaphone, and Microsoft acquiring Nokia’s smartphone business. A while back Facebook was in deep trouble; its initial public offering almost failed. Why? Because it wasn’t with it, mobility-wise. But now that’s ancient news. Shudder, shiver. Thank the Lord that’s over. So what is next after all of this? Or will we hear technology/mobility for a few more years yet to come? What will “technology” mean a decade or so from now? Surely not the same thing as today.

This got me thinking about that Zen koan. The thought came, baffling at first, from the barely visible left field. You know the one I mean. It is about the sound of one hand clapping. It took me a minute before I saw my mind’s clumsy intent to say something meaningful on the subject. Let me unpack that.

All this hysterical scrambling to unload or to load up, to cash in or to cash out, comes about because the field of computing, generally, is maturing, putting on some bark, laying thick roots—and the only flower that attracts the bees of investment is the handheld device of people in motion but wishing still, yes, even while jogging, to keep up with where its at: on the Internet. A maturing industry, naturally, has flagging growth. But growth is one of a pair of things. Where there is growth, there is decline.

What is the sound of growth without its brother, decline? On a spherical planet with limited surface? Once we have the answer, satori won’t be far behind.

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