How technology has changed the world

In the last ten years or so, technology has exploded. Today’s technological gadgets are small, fast, powerful, and everywhere. This blossoming of technology has numerous personal advantages, allowing users a level of freedom that has never been seen before.

The laptop was perhaps the first such device to carry the user from the office and out into the cafes, the airport, and even the parks. And as far back as May 2003, the laptop has been outselling the desktop. Today the trend is for even smaller laptops – “nettops” – and integrated cellular cards, the combination of which means that the laptop is getting even more mobile. Users can now carry with them the data equivalent of an entire library floor at any given time, as well as having constant access to the internet, entire music collection, and various social networks.

The cell phone, even more so than the laptop, has seen exponential increases in power and performance over the last few years. What was once a large brick-like device, singular in purpose and used by few, has become a small computer in its own right and become a product of the masses. And what’s more, people are starting to move away from their home phones and ever increasing rates. In 2004, 5% of Americans (1 out of every 20) had abandoned their landlines in exchange for a “cell phone only” existence. By the end of 2007, that number had jumped to 16%, and now that number has brushed over the 1 in 6 household mark.

Laptops and cell phones are, of course, only the tip of the iceberg. Apple surpassed the 100 million mark on its iPod nearly two years ago, and they only represent 70% of the global digital music player market. Digital cameras of every shape and size have almost wholly replaced film cameras, enabling nearly everyone to embrace their inner Ansel Adams. And every day there are smaller and more functional hybrid devices that blend the roles of some or all of these. Technology has essentially enabled all of us to have a pocket-sized world.

How technology has changed the world
How technology has changed the world

Granted, that pocket-sized world is not without its drawbacks. Though prices have generally fallen across the board, price is still not something that can be easily overlooked, especially when one considers the detriment that can be had when items are lost. Yes, the problem with a pocket-sized world seems to be that our devices are now so easily lost, and so detrimental when gone.

For some things, cameras and MP3 players, the loss is simply a mixture of financial and inconvenience. A lost iPod means you’re out a couple of hundred bucks and you can be a bit starved for music until you replace it. But losing a laptop can be far more detrimental if it serves as your means of paying bills, finding news, and working. Aside from the potential for identity theft, you’re often forced to rely on a backup computer that is missing the data that you need to otherwise accomplish your work. The one in six American households without a landline, the loss of a cell phone, something so easily accomplished, can wrench away from their only true way of communicating over a distance.

So, how exactly does one prevent such a loss in a world that fits in a pocket? Well, for starters, get into the habit of regular backups. It’s a good idea to keep your data in multiple locations, and preferably on a physical medium. Second, use a strong password. Though strong passwords can be difficult to remember, they are also difficult to crack. This means even if you lose your device, someone is more likely to simply wipe it than used a saved password in your internet browser to access your bank account. And lastly, include your contact information on a small label placed on the outside of your device. Receiving a phone call from someone who found your digital camera, iPod, or laptop, or an email from someone who’s found your phone can be a bit like winning the lottery, saving both times, money, and peace of mind.

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