Is Change Accelerating?

Accelerating change is the idea that technology driven social change is exponentially increasing. The idea stems from the observation that each decade appears to change at an increased rate. Technological change drives faster and more profound change that is accompanied by equally profound social and cultural change.  Let’s check out this theory.  Is it true that life changed more between 2000 and 2010 than between 1900 and 1910?

Here is a list of inventions between 1900 and 1910:

  • Escalator 1900
  • Radio 1901
  • Vacuum 1902
  • Air conditioner 1902
  • Polygraph 1902
  • Neon Light 1902
  • Airplane 1903
  • Windshield wipers 1903
  • Tractor 1904
  • Theory of Relativity 1905
  • Bakelite (an early plastic) 1907
  • Color photography 1907
  • Helicopter 1907
  • Gyro Compass 1908
  • Motion Picture 1910

I think we can agree that many of these inventions made our lives easier, more comfortable, and more fun.   Some inventions, like the airplane, tractor, Bakelite, and motion picture created new industries.  Others, like the windshield wiper, neon light and color photography enhanced or expanded existing ones. 

Compare these inventions to the ones we experienced between 2000 and 2010

  • Camera phone 2000
  • USB flash drive 2000
  • Bluetooth 2000
  • Toyota Prius 2001
  • Blu-Ray disc 2002
  • Facebook 2004
  • You Tube 2005
  • Wii 2006
  • PS3 2006
  • Blu Ray player 2006
  • iPhone 2007
  • iPod Touch 2007
  • Android 2008
  • iPad 2010
  • xBox 360 Kinect 2010

These inventions not only changed the way we work, live and play but also paved the way to disrupt entire industries.  We experienced a new era of change that drove major shifts in our culture.  Online services such as YouTube and Facebook now boast billions of users worldwide.  The iPhone has brought hyper connectivity and hyper speed to all facets of our lives, with both positive and negative outcomes from being constantly tethered and distracted by technology.  Accelerated?  Absolutely!

Thomas Friedman’s book Thank You for Being Late examines the idea of accelerating change.  Join our CPLF book club in reading the book and discussing the questions chapter by chapter. 

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