The world is changing. But it's not too late to take advantage.

With the Internet came a new way to communicate, new ways for us to consume new media, an entirely new lifestyle, and new industries. The Internet has changed almost every facet of living in the modern (first) world. This isn't the first time such a massive technological evolution has occurred though.

Roughly five thousand years ago, one out-of-the-box thinker decided, in the hot sun of Sumer 1, to take the words that they heard spoken around them, and attempt to translate them into a graphical depiction, inscribed in an early tablet. This was the moment language levelled up. Messages, from that point on, could be passed from one person to another in a much easier way. This quickly encroached on several professions of the time; storytellers were now a luxury, and the need for qualified messengers was drastically reduced. This one simple idea of a single person changed everything. It changed the way people communicate and express themselves. It changed the world. The Internet is doing the same.

By Moore's Law, we know that the influence and power of the Internet over our lives is increasing exponentially, as is all technology. It is taking its place in every industry, wherever there is room for improvement through connectivity. Who doesn't have a website these days?

To not see this would be foolish, would it not?

The Internet has already fundamentally changed the publishing industry and, just like the creation of the written word, this will spread to infect your industry. But only if you do not embrace it. It could be, instead of an infection, the miracle cure to your industry's collapse. The Internet is like a mythical power to modern industry: it can either enhance it, or destroy it. In the past few years, we have seen publishers flock to the Internet searching for the readers they lost to the greater accessibility of the Web. In the UK, weekly newspaper subscriptions have fallen from an average of 2.2 to just 0.4 per household, a decrease by a factor of five and a half 2. The Internet's continually increasing importance in culture, and our day-to-day lives, is a significant cause of this.

Luckily, we are still living in the early days of the Internet, the first few of perhaps thousands to come. Just like learning to write would have helped you prosper in the early years of writing, you still have a chance to take advantage of new technologies like the Internet. And let me make this clear: just like writing, it will be a skill everyone is expected to have in the future, not just a skill of a special subset of people. Don't let yourself become technologically illiterate, because soon this will be as great a reason for degradation as illiteracy of a modern language (rather than a technical, coding language) is now.

I encourage you to take the time to look into how the technology you use works. Look at the things you could do yourself: look at coding, most importantly coding for the Web as it is by far the most accessible and provides the most popular services - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc - to real people, to the masses. With a knowledge of technology and human interfaces and applications, you can prosper. Soon, it will be unavoidable. We have already seen many integrations of technology into the human body: robotic limbs for now; miniature digital retina implant devices in a decade or so; and eventually nanotechnology designed to fight illness and disease from inside the body. Every aspect of human life will be touched by technology. There will be very few professions which do not require a technical, computer software- or hardware- related qualification, so it is probably best to act fast.

The Internet is the future. HTML. CSS. Objective-C. Ruby. Java. You'll be seeing more of these.

Don't hesitate. Development of Web technology, as just one example, is becoming more complicated by the second, with updates to core technologies and new additions being developed as I type. The days of table layouts and HTML and CSS alone being all that is needed for a high-end website are long gone. You need JavaScript - or for simplicity's sake, jQuery - for a nice site, albeit simple, and a back-end PHP or RoR solution for anything with a log-in. It's no longer possible to jump straight in, with the first thing you do being the simplest and most complex the Web has to offer. The scale of complicatedness is now so extremely set that it can take years to become proficient at every level, and years more to become an expert in just one of these fields.

So, please, for your own sake, invest in yourself and the future of technology. Don't let this opportunity pass you by. I see a future of brightness, and technological advancement and innovation, but if you aren't part of the force pushing the human race into this new era of techno-human symbiosis, the unfortunate reality may be that you are simply dragged along with it. You will fade into being nothing but a consumer for the great technology companies of the time to feed on.

1 - There is evidence of written depiction of words that were independently created in other locations at approximately the same time.
2 - 2.2 per household figure from 1950, 0.4 from 2010.


Reading time: 05:03 Written by Graham Macphee