Monday, January 31, 2011

The advancement of movement

Concept car from 1950 
A while ago I mentioned a book I have been reading, (HERE) Ken Robinson's "Out of our Minds".  So far it has been a super interesting read, full of insight on the current trends and research in all sorts of areas including technology, paper, business, and problem solving among others. I am in the middle of 3 books right now so it is slow going but I wanted to share some startling statistics in a few areas of technological growth.

In 1950, the average person travelled about 5 miles per day
In 2000, the average person travelled about 30 miles per day
In 2020, the average person will travel about 60 miles per day

William Shakespeare's father was born in Snitterfield England (near Stratford-upon-Avon) Until he was 34 he had never left the village. He then decided to leave Snitterfield to seek his fortune in Stratford.  This is 3 miles away.  It is hard to believe at todays level of travel that this was a big deal but to think that his parents, grandparents, and great grandparents never left the village in their lives.  The pace of change in one thing this book really hits home and it is quite interesting.  Robinson relates the advancement as the image of a clock.  If the last 3000 years was a clock face with each 60 minutes representing 50 years.

3 minutes ago the internal combustion engine was invented
2 minutes ago the motor car
90 sec ago the jet engine
1 minute ago rocket propulsion
50 sec ago space travel
10 sec ago the reusable space shuttle

This advancement in technology is not across the board though.  Robinson reports that if the automobile industry would have grown as fast as the computer technology the average family car would be able to travel at six times the speed of sound, it would be capable of 1000 miles per gallon and it would cost about 70 dollars.
I am interested in the curve of change (the dramatic shift) and where it was going, since the industrial revolution we have been in a race with ourselves (and at some points, others) but the escalation is reaching a dangerous velocity especially with respect to education and employment. There also has been a loss with all this technological advancement.  There has been a loss of commitment to one thing, the idea of mastery is becoming something people admire but don't try for.  In my opinion our current culture  has created an environment where it is harder to obtain a status of mastery.

1 comment:

Earl Grey said...

I love this kind of historical analogy where GCVA mentions the past 3000 years as a clock face. I wonder, in the world of art, how this analogy would play out. How many hours ago would Michelangelo or Brunelleschi lived? How many hours ago would the cave paintings have been made? I feel an infographic coming on....;)