Posts filed under ‘Technology’

The passage of time

Nothing represents the changing times more than the little hand held device that we use on an hourly basis.

We used to rely on sundials (before our lifetime), grandfather clocks and wrist watches to track the passage of time. Not any more. The smartphone does it for you.

We relied on good old biological clocks and then the shrill alarm clock and then the radio alarm for years; now it is all in the smartphone.

We relied on date-calendars (where you turn one page off every day), on monthly-page-turn calendars and then the calendar on your ‘Outlook’ on the computer; the smart phone tracks your calendar, it tracks birthdays and anniversaries and even ghost sends greetings.



We relied on good old notebooks and pens; then on the crude text editors and then sophisticated word processors – and yes, you are right, you do it all on the smart phone.

We were fast at mental arithmetic. Then we started using logarithmic tables in our 12th grade. The calculator completely changed how our minds processed numbers while in College. Now, even that calculator is part of your smartphone.

We made hundreds of phone calls to announce our child’s birth, spending long hours on the phone and tallying phone bills later. Now, we just make an announcement on Whatsap and Facebook, share photos and videos. Despite this 5 minute post, we spend an eternity browsing messages on FB and Whatsapp. Well, thats another story. But again, it is all in your palm.

We relied on AT&T to make global calls, paying a fortune. Disruptive market forces cheapened these calls as we started spending more money and time on them. Now, with international calls free on intelligent phones we spend even more time, messaging and reading messages, keeping in touch ‘virtually’ with a huge network of people. And we pay what we used to pay AT&T in the days of the heavy black phone with a spring controlled dial, a heavy receiver a limited length wire that would always get coiled, and a ratchet ring tone and an annoying ‘Busy Tone’ that we have almost completely forgotten.

I still very clearly remember that windy, cold day some years ago when I was walking on Fisherman’s Wharf, feeling the weight in the pockets of my brand-new sweatshirt. It was the combined weight of a GPS (to tell me where I was), a blackberry (to stay connected) and an ipod. Content as I was with all these ‘abilities’, I still wished that all these could operate out of the same device, so that I would have to carry just one device. Would that even be possible, I thought.

And guess what, it has come true way beyond what anyone could have imagined. Of course, the ipod maker has reigned, taking in their sweep, geographical positioning as well as telephony.

16 years ago, at the turn of the millennium cellphones were bulky. Now cellphones are bulky again in a different way. They do way too much more. They have made us think differently and have affected all walks of society. Why, a hemisphere away from here, over a billion people are prodded towards thinking about carrying out every single business transaction on a handheld smart device.

I just saw firework displays in Sydney on someone’s facebook post and was reminded of watching the same on television 17¬†years ago wondering what Y2K would do to humanity. That bulky television set is long gone, replaced by a¬†smarter, sleeker and less expensive device.

Time is unstoppable. Change is inevitable. Let us welcome 2017 with the wish that the changes that we as humans create work towards the betterment of the world at large.

Wishing everyone a very happy Gregorian New Year 2017 and beyond.


Kanniks Kannikeswaran

December 31, 2016 at 11:36 am Leave a comment