Although this is mainly continuing along the RSI & Ergonomics discussion, Elly‘s comments on the effect of playing too many games, or texting too much also touch on a wider issue. How much the communications revolution has changed everyday life. For years people have been telling us that technology will change everything, that the world will never be the same again. They’ve been talked about it like it would be this huge big bang that would suddenly transform everything around us. They were wrong .. it creeps up slowly and quietly.

I was reading Burman’s Shift! the other day and although I found it quite academic (read: boring) it did have an interesting core … the internet is a communications revolution that will change the whole paradigm of a range of sciences, from psychology to communications, in the style of the Copernican revolution. He follows the Kuhnian philosophy that paradigm shift is achieved by a creeping number of discrepancies forcing us to re-evaluate the way things are.

I wouldn’t have put it quite as drily (or taken as long to say it ::rolleyes::) but I agree. The changes, the discrepancies that will really change things have crept upon us. In the space of my lifetime things have changed a great deal. I have seen profound, abrupt, “big bang” change — the regime change in South Africa in 1994 — but this is much more subtle. Fundamental things have changed. Kids don’t play outside anymore. Your most important working implements are not your muscles, but your fingertips & your mind. You are probably just as likely to end up disabled, but not due to an accident at work … but due to work itself. Being able to type really is more important than being able to write (oh and how I wish the uni would realise that and let me type exams!!).

The list goes on and on and gets rather boring. But what really drove it home for me to day was that I found this article through the monthly newsletter I get from our home broadband supplier, Zen, and it didn’t surprise me. “That’s clever”, I thought, “turn pubs into internet cafes and just cover the keyboards in beerproof coating. Natural thing to do, pubs are the centre of rural communities anyway, right?” Then I remembered that the McDonalds in central Bath has done the same thing. And that those Centrino ads are really getting everywhere and soon the latest bad restaurant etiquette will not be talking loudly on your mobile phone, but hacking into the person checking their email at the next’s tables handheld device, tablet or maybe even laptop and playing porn loudly on it.

The dot coms may have gone bust, but the revolution has still happened … look around, it’s everywhere. My mom can use email. My grandparents have a cellphone and a phone capable of sending email. My dad keeps track of where his car is by marking it on his GPS when he parks. It’s happening all the time, all around … and I didn’t notice. Did you?

Follow Up: I found two interesting things today … one symptomatic of how things have changed :
We all need Knee Defenders these days, because we allow ourselves to be cramped like cattle on flights that take us thousands of miles in mere hours.

The other made me absolutely shudder as a biker, but seemed a wonderfully ingenious use of modern technology to the side of me that wasn’t screaming “No!! Not more chance of a slower more painful M4! And more points!!” — a completely refuted but still fascinating new speed camera scheme (Note: This is apparently a hoax. It’s still a cool (and at the same time horrifying) idea).