Some of the books All books by Thomas P. Hughes From Dawn to Decadence, Barzun Maps of Time, Christian To Light Such a Candle, Laidler Information Ages, Hobart & Shiffman The New Renaissance, Robertson Saving Capitalism, Rajan & Zingales The Mind and the Market, Muller The Soul of Capitalism, Greider Seeing What’s Next, Christensen et al
Me Liberal Arts college: math, physics, drama, track & cross country, quartet, *and* learned about computers at Argonne Lab IBM: systems engineer, computer sales rep Iowa State: math, com sci grad student, math, com sci professor, com sci dept chair, computation center director NSF: nsfnet program director, networking division director, cise directorate deputy AD and acting AD, now CIO
Myers-Briggs (E/I, N/S, T/F, J/P) Duty seekers: SJs are realistic, practical, and responsible, and they like to stick to standard ways of doing things. Action seekers: SPs enjoy life in the here and now. Freedom is highly valued, and they resist being restricted or controlled. Knowledge seekers: NTs [seek to] understand and synthesize complex information, anticipate future trends, and focus on long range goals. Ideal seekers: NFs tend to have a vision of an ideal world and want to work toward creating that vision here on earth.
Foreground/Background Data/Information/Knowledge… Data: in databases Information: in messages; meaningful data Knowledge: in heads; information in context; actionable information; linked information; foreground information plus background context This is a background/context talk for IT change makers!
Change/Power Agents Scientific Technological Industrial Cultural Military Political Economic Social
Early big changes Language evolved ~100,000 years bp Agriculture undertaken 10,000 bp Civilization invented 5,000 bp (including writing, mathematics)
Questions for historians From 5,000 bp until 200 bp: “why was innovation so slow?” Since 200 bp: “why is innovation so fast?” (the modern big change)
One historian’s Answer Before 200 bp, most people were engaged in subsistence agriculture (Just how much can you eat?) Since 200 bp, an increasing number of people (esp. in developed countries) are engaged in commerce and industry (Work hard or lose your job/business!)
Leading up to the big change 500 bp: Renaissance 400 bp: Science Revolution 300 bp: Commercial Revolution 200 bp: Industrial Revolution Western culture produced, in succession, four freedoms: from church, nobles, kings, and want
Information Ages Writing: 5000/2500/500 bp –2500: Logic, rhetoric, literature –500: Printing Mathematics: 5000/2500/300 bp –2500: Euclid – 300: Algebra + Geometry -> Calculus Computing: 150/100/50 bp –150: Mechanical cash registers, bookkeeping –100: Electrical punched card data processing – 50: Electronic computing
200-year change: US Agriculture 1800: Farmers were more than 90% of the population 1800s: John Deere and Silas McCormack mechanized farming with better horse- drawn implements 1900s: The steam and internal combustion engines retired the horse, and hybridization drastically improved yields 2000: Farming is almost all science and implements, almost no labor!
200 years of Telecommunications About 1840, the Morse telegraph electrified telecommunications (beginning with a USG-funded line from Baltimore to DC!) In 1876, the Bell telephone electrified the human voice (for short distances only) In the early 1900s, the wireless telegraph resulted from Maxwell’s Equations In the 1920s, radio went on the air (followed by television in the 1940s)
Sustaining technologies An innovation that makes a product better (eg, Deere and McCormack farm implements; multiplexing telegraph lines; automatic tuners for radios) Incumbent companies are very good at producing and marketing sustaining innovations
Disruptive technologies An innovation that provides a poorer solution to a known problem (eg, telephone, pc) If it also provides a solution to another problem(s) that incumbent providers and customers aren’t interested in, it may flourish and improve in its own market niche If its rate of improvement is fast enough, it may end up displacing/disrupting the original technology *and* the companies that made it
50-year IT Changes Computing: from mainframes (1950s) to personal computers (1980s) Networking: from stand-alone to LAN (1960s) to Internet (1990s) Information: from a little data to islands of some information to the Web (1990s) Human-Computer interface: command line to GUI to the Web
More 50-year IT Changes Cheap A-to-D technology enabled digital telephone technology for improved voice service (1960s), not for data To implement data (computer-to-computer) telecommunications, the computer itself was employed as a “helper technology” to enable the packet switching Internet to ride over the circuit switching telephone network (1970s)
History of ‘Miracle’ IT technologies Chip: Light bulb (1870s) to diode vacuum tube (1890s) to triode (1900s, for radio communication) to transistor (1940s--from quantum mechanics of the 1920s) to solid state logic (1950s) to computer chips (1960s) Fiber optics: light containment (1870s) to cladded fiber (1960s) Laser light source: Einstein (1918) to masers (1950s) to GaAs chips emitting IR (1970s) Rotating disk storage! $1/B to $1/gB
Sustaining or disruptive miracles? Computer makers tried to use the chip as a sustaining innovation to make better mainframes; but its disruptive use was to make pc’s Telephone companies tried to use fiber optics to improve telephone long distance service, but its disruptive use was to enable the Internet High volume, low cost disk storage is about to disrupt the publishing industry
Year-to-year changelessness Four phases of a technology: lab, exotic, manufacturable, pervasive Computers 1940, 1951, 1981, 2005? Internet 1969, 1991, 2010? 2020?
Future Telecom Changes The Internet to displace the voice net as phone calls go VoIP? Cable-TV telephony? Wireless Data to displace cell phones? IM and similar “toys”? All optical networks (optical transmission and optical switching) to bring back circuits?
Other Future IT Changes Computing: from mainframes to personal computers (pc’s) to thing computers (tc’s)? Networking: from stand-alone to Internet to wireless sensor/actuator nets? Information: from data to islands of info to “all info available everywhere, all the time”?
Higher Education disruptions? Could IT automate education to the extent that agriculture has been automated? Could a science of learning yield ‘scientific’ IT- based education? Currently IT-based education is poorer than (the best) traditional education IT-based education might find niches and continue to develop What if IT-based education takes us from 20 students per class to 20 teachers per student?
Educational disruptions? Higher education: motivated to cut costs? –Community colleges (now 50% of students) –For profit universities (mostly adult students) –Corporate training programs (just in time) K-12 education: motivated to improve? –Charter schools (not) –Individual courses over the Internet Edu-tainment?
Conclusions Modern times really are different! –Enlightenment, romantic reaction, Victorian period, modern, now postmodern, … From farming revolution to beginning of civilization was 5000 years From industrial/information revolution to a “new civilization” will be how many years? Can we survive until then (eg, pollution, extinctions, pandemics, terrorists, wmd)?
John Dewey (1859-1952) “A philosophy of experience will accept at its full value the fact that social and moral existences are, like physical existences, in a state of continuous if obscure change. It will not try to cover up the fact of inevitable modification, and it will make no attempt to set fixed limits to the extent of changes that are to occur. For the futile effort to achieve security and anchorage in something fixed, it will substitute the effort to determine the character of changes that are going on and to give them in the affairs that concern us most some measure of intelligent direction.”