It is always interesting to reflect on how the American workplace has changed over the decades, especially concerning science and technology. For example, the digitization of our world. In moving from the latter half of the 20th century into the 21st century, we have experienced an absolutely overwhelming digital transformation. Exactly how we perceived that transformation going into it, during it, and our projections about its future are the subjects of deep analysis by millions. People have been fooled, people have been heroes, and people have been oblivious. All three kinds of people have navigated the digitization tornado. What some have pondered has been fascinating.
One of the most interesting paradoxical positions about the digitization tornado came to me from a former colleague in the chemical industry many years ago. I say paradoxical because he articulated something incredibly shortsighted that did not happen and he simultaneously articulated something incredibly powerful that did happen:
- The Incredibly Shortsighted—“Digitization will never threaten or replace traditional wet chemistry photography.” (We know what happened there!)
- The Incredibly Powerful—“The youngest generation won’t believe anything is real unless they can see it in digital form.” (Just look at how attached some people are to their devices. Does that give you a clue?)
It amazes me that such a failed statement and such a prescient statement can come from the same person. But such reality underscores the subtle deception and difficulty of capturing and capitalizing upon a trend. And is that not our constant challenge every single day in this amazingly complex, hi-tech world?