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  • 8/7/2019 The Directions and Trends of Technology


    Kevin Yang


    AP World History 2

    10 May 2010

    The Directions and Trends of Technology

    Leaps of scientific achievements have occurred throughout the early modern to

    contemporary era encouraging a massive expansion of new technologies. However, even earlier

    than that has technology permeated the lives of humans. Since Foundations to the Contemporary

    Age, each period has experienced an increase in the acceleration and sophistication of

    technology which starts to play a larger role in peoples lives each period as it finds new ways of

    intertwining itself into almost every aspect of peoples lives: from how they interact, shop, and

    even behave. The direction technology evolves consistently centers around one main goal:

    improving communication. Although the promotion of consumerism has come about through

    technology (online shopping, for example), it is only side of effect of the improved


    Technology has helped facilitate interactions and communication from Foundations

    (beasts of burden) to the Contemporary Age. Here are three examples, one from each period of

    the post-classical era to the modern era. Widespread interactions during the post-classical period

    in the Middle East required a tremendous amount of energy put into travel (aided by camel

    caravansa form of technology) which also came with a few problems. For example, carrying

    large amounts of money needed for an expensive transaction could often be hazardous as bandits

    could easily steal almost all of a merchants capital. In response to such an issue, inventions

    around this time included paper notes (money similar to the form of todays checks) in China and

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    in the Middle East which made it easier and even safer for merchants to exchange large sums of

    money. Again in the early modern era, technology such as the sails, the astrolabe, and compass

    aided in expansion and interaction of European countries which had adopted policies of

    mercantilism and became interested in colonizing, exploiting, and profiting from other isolated

    lands such as the Americas. Still the trend continued in the modern period as the Industrial

    Revolution took place and encouraged the growth of infrastructure technology like railroads,

    telegraphs, and canals which in turn promoted interaction and commerce as goods could be sent

    as quickly and reach a mass of consumers using speedier transportation and better


    In todays world, one can easily see how communication is still evolving through

    technology like the internet which has spawned services from social networking to translation,

    but, less obviously, few see the consequences and complications which arise out of our numerous

    advancements such as privacy issues and cyberbullying. With the invention of the internet,

    thoughts, images or movies can literally be published for anyone on any continent with an

    internet connection to see within seconds. This has been a problem recently for skaters or any

    modern celebrity (Macur) as these public figures can receive and send speedier and more direct

    communication between themselves and fans through the internet instead of traditional mediums

    like mail and accidentally leak sensitive information such as the location of practice or shoot.

    This breach in private information could be utilized by delusional fans of these celebrities willing

    to contact or even kill for the public figures for attention. Not only are superstars prone to

    privacy concerns created by technology, but regular citizens as well. When Google revealed its

    new product Google Buzz (Googles stab at social networking) concerns were brought up

    regarding the information which could be shared. Users of Buzz worried that Buzz made their

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    frequent e-mail contacts visible to others which is the equivalent on Facebook of having

    people you e-mail with the most often automatically become friends. But those people may

    instead be [a] boss or ex-lover, and you wouldnt necessarily want to share everything with them,

    (Google tweaks Bbuzz after privacy concerns). Technology has made it a little too easy to

    share much information that is only meant for a few eyes.

    At the same time though, it has also created another place to express opinions, similar to

    a public forum in Rome, except worldwide. Facebook, a social networking site previously

    mentioned, offers users to create "pages," a section where topics ranging from celebrities,

    musical groups, or even mundane things can be discussed. A student in Florida created a page on

    Facebook complaining in a nonthreatening manner about the quality of her teacher in high school;

    her peers responded with similar agreements and while other peers defended the teacher. The

    teenager who created the Facebook page was later suspended by the school administration for

    "cyberbullying." In retaliation she filed a lawsuit against the school and followed through with it

    (Gentile). Although the internet is a new place to discuss things, it still requires that humans

    retain their basic rights.

    Not only can the technology manifest itself as a means of creating a public forum, but it

    can go even further than that by uniting or dividing peoples of different cultures. Through the

    power of language translation offered by computers, it will soon be possible to dissolve the

    language barrier. Many companies have developed translation tools but few have come close to

    the sophistication of Google's tool which will soon be able to translate English captions of an

    online video to over 50 languages (Helft). Although technology has the potential to unite cultures,

    it also has the power to divide them internally and externally as well. The speed of technological

    innovations is creating gaps in generations of how people respond and perceive technology

  • 8/7/2019 The Directions and Trends of Technology


    (Stone). For example today's toddlers may be familiar with their parent's iPhone or Amazon's

    Kindle (an Ebook reader); later when they explore using a computer, they may expect a reaction

    after touching the computer's monitor or later when they decide to read a book, they may always

    associate a Kindle with reading instead the original form--physical books. Dividing among

    cultures instead of just inside one culture, the internet may become another front in wars. The

    United States is currently trying to recruit a large team of engineers to fight cyberwar (King).

    Conflict inside countries is also present as China had to take steps to toughen hacking laws

    (Fletcher) and the United States recently charged four men involved in an online ticket scam

    (Mills). The internet, being another medium to handle a large influx of communication, has its

    own context to spawn issues of privacy, individual rights, and conflict.

    Before the modern era, any communication between two parties required physical contact

    or having someone physically deliver a message and required primitive technology utilizing

    beasts of burden. During the modern era, interaction could occur without meeting, instead a

    telegraph or telephone call could be made and even if interacted physically occurred, it could

    ride on the technology of railroads. Now in the contemporary period, interaction can occur at a

    much larger scale and at a faster speed and share much more than messages confined to text or

    speech thanks to the advent of the internet. Despite these changes, the messages still remain

    similar from before or today as people have always been spreading their ideas ranging anywhere

    from food to politics. Only now the medium is not the Silk Road or even telegraph lines, it is on

    a super information highway known as the internet. Although this medium procures numerous

    benefits, it is equally liable to procure serious problems involving privacy, human rights, and

    conflict. The internet probably has a future in uniting peoples of all nationalities which has the

    potential to bring world peace, or it can go the other extreme of dividing and creating conflict

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    between people which also has the potential to bring world destruction. In the end, whichever

    route is taken, it is ultimately determined by humans, not technology.

  • 8/7/2019 The Directions and Trends of Technology


    Works Cited

    Fletcher, Owen. "China takes step to toughen hacking laws." ComputerWorld 02 Feb. 2010: n.

    pag. Web. 02 Feb. 2010.

    Gentile, Carmen. "Student Suspended for Facebook Page Can Sue." New York Times 16 Feb.

    2010: n. pag. Web. 16 Feb. 2010.

    "Google tweaks Bbuzz after privacy concerns." Associated Press 12 Feb. 2010: n. pag. Web. 16

    Feb. 2010.

    Helft, Miguel. "Google's Computing Power Refines Translation Tool." New York Times 08 Mar.

    2010: n. pag. Web. 09 Mar. 2010.

    King, Rachael. "Uncle Sam Wants You (To Fight Hackers)." BusinessWeek 06 Apr. 2010: n.

    pag. Web. 08 April 2010.

    Macur, Juliet. "Web is Bringing Skaters' Lives Uneasily Close to Fans' Obessions." New York

    Times. 24 Jan. 2010: n. pag. Web. 24 Jan. 2010.

    Mills, Elinor. "Four men charged in computerized online ticket scam." CNet News 01 Mar. 2010:

    n. pag. Web. 02 Ma


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