Is the Technology World Too 'Pop Culture'?

As many of you who read my work here on SlashGear know, I'm an avid technology lover. My entire life has been dedicated to learning about technology, leveraging the tools that work best, and educating others on the value of it. From a young age, I was building my own PCs and taking apart products to see how they worked. It wasn't long that I realized that having some sort of career in this fascinating world was a good idea.[Image courtesy VintageComputing]

But over the last decade or so, I've seen a shift in the technology industry that makes me worry about the future. The technology industry was once a haven for folks like me (and perhaps you) that wanted to immerse themselves in electronics and use them as much as possible to get work done. For us, technology wasn't an interest; it was a way of life.

Back then, those of us who loved technology had formed a special bond. We were speaking another language that many folks didn't quite understand, and we were able to solve problems that others couldn't. It was a special thing. And it was ours.

But over the last decade, I've watched my beloved technology industry become awfully commercial. Products are no longer judged solely on their usability or component power. Instead, products are judged based on their looks and how "intuitive" they are for the average technology user. Value has won out over power. And those of us who remember the old days are left scratching our heads.

[aquote]Computers are now personality-extensions, with branding and design to reflect that[/aquote]

See, the technology industry is now a key component of pop culture. There's not a day that goes by that someone on the news or a late night show or on MTV won't mention an iPhone, iPad, or Android-based device. Computers were once purely functional pieces of equipment that helped us get work done. Now, they're extensions of our personality, and have branding and design features to reflect that.

It's now cool to go to school with the latest gadget in hand and show it off to friends. While discussing "gigabytes" and "Flash" and other topics were once reserved for the so-called "geeks," they're now commonplace in discussions with supposedly ordinary people.

Of course, some in the industry believe this is a good thing. As technology has become more accepted, major companies have generated more cash. Small companies built out of the success of larger firms are thriving. And more and more people are being employed by the industry.

It's hard to argue with that. The technology industry really has become the cornerstone of the world economy. And companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Samsung are employing thousands of people that, 20 years ago, wouldn't have had a job.

But excuse me for believing that maybe – just maybe – there was something special about the old days. The technology industry might not have been "cool," but it was fun and exciting. And it was unique.

Maybe the old days are gone. But there's something to be said about remembering – and honoring – your history.