You hear lots about technology curves which talk about early adopters and how fast technology is changing our lives.
You hear far less about those who adopt technology and feel like they have just been thrown a curve ball. I am often reminded that many of us live on different planets sometimes when it comes to technology. Even those of us who have been immersed in technology can find our own comeuppance by stepping out of our fields of expertise.
Technology has been very good to me and my family, but we have bled on the leading edge many times.
Often advertising leads you to believe certain things are so easy that anyone can do it. We certainly played that theme well with the iMac when Apple brought simplicity in computers for the Internet to the world.
The original iMac was introduced just over 15 years ago on August 15, 1998. I was an Apple manager at the time, and I still remember the challenge of standing in front of a room of high level customers and answering questions after the product introduction. The problem was that the only information that I had was what I had just gleaned from the same video feed that the customers had watched with me. It was one of those think on your feet times that often defined my career at Apple.
One of the key pieces of advertising that supported the iMac introduction was an ad that tried to have you believe that hooking up to the Internet was so easy that even a young boy and his dog could handle the task faster than a older man and his PC.
I have my doubts as to how accurate the commercial was then. I also feel like connecting to the Internet is one of the biggest technology curves balls that is out there. There are plenty of television commercials that promise how easy it is to connect to the Internet. What they do not tell you is how flaky or difficult it can be sometimes to keep that simple connection going.
Over the years we have hooked to the Internet with everything including modems, line of sight towers, DSL, cable modems, and even fiber if you count my son's (and older daughter's) FIOS connection. Once the connection got to the house, there have also been a fair number of permutations from low speed AppleTalk to Ethernet and a variety of wireless and even technology over power lines. I cannot even count how many times I have reset cable modems and/or replaced or reset wireless devices and routers.
A lot of this is simpler if you have only had one computer at a time over the years. As a family consumed by technology, I doubt we have been in that situation since 1982 when we got our first Apple II+ about eleven years before we first connected to the Internet in baby steps.
Things are very different in 2013 and our creaky way of connecting to the Internet is showing strains of not being able to handle our needs. Few families just have one device that connects to the Internet. I work from home and the small broadband connection we get through our cable modem is barely adequate on good days. When there is a holiday or storm day in the winter and all those neighborhood tablets and smartphones start connecting, I notice the difference.
I work for a company, WideOpen Networks, that believes fiber to the home, FTTH, is a key technology for our future. I wish I could flip a switch and have a true big broadband connection like my friend Garnet in the fiber friendly world of Chattanooga, Tenessee. Actually Wilson, North Carolina is doing the same with their fiber city, but the brilliant folks in the North Carolina legislature have been bought off by Time Warner Cable and have passed a law making it much more difficult for other communities to follow suit. Why is it that we always get the short end of the stick when government tries to "help private enterprise" instead of make certain that the people who elected them get taken care of first.
To see where your state falls in the critical category of broadband, check out this chart. The next time you talk to one of your legislators ask him or her why the cable company has their hand in his or her pocket?
If we do not turn our little broadband into big broadband soon, we might have swung and missed at the ultimate technology curve ball while much of the rest of the world hits home runs.
I would rather the picture at the top of the post represent the sunset marking the end of the cable and phone companies's power over our Internet connectivity than the end of our country's leadership with the Internet.