Home Articles The Luddites shall inherit the past

    The Luddites shall inherit the past


    I’m not an IT guru. I’m not even an IT journeyman. In fact, when IT people converse, I zone out completely and contemplate whether their peculiar dialect was devised solely so they can discuss, unhindered, the shortcomings of others in the room who don’t share their Martian ethnicity.  

    But, having established my credentials as an everyman, can someone please explain to me: WHAT’S UP WITH LUDDITES?

    Sure they are often longer in the tooth than a geriatric beaver, but that by no means holds as a rule. As Anthill regularly demonstrates, age is but a state of mind.  

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate Luddites; those tire-kicking technophobes who prefer the swamp to the superhighway. I find their lack of curiosity curious, as I do metrophobics (those who fear poetry) or aichmorhabdophobics (those who fear being beaten with a pointed stick). It is the irrationality of Luddites that is unsettling.nI can’t tell you the number of times I point an information seeker to a website, only to be met with a muttered, Nice try, you’re not going to catch me out on that one! kind of response.  

    It’s tempting to think that we are living in a special time; that the world is simply changing too fast for everyone to keep up. But the truth is that the present has always been a time of fl ux, tugged this way and that by our

    malleable convictions and expectations. There have always been those who lead change and those who get left behind. The common thread has always been attitude; a chasm between those who are willing to adapt to change and those who fear and fi ght it.nAnd this is now backed up by research. US technology and market research company, Forrester Research Inc., recently surveyed nearly 69,000 Americans and Canadians to determine their technology/entertainment habits. The results were quite clear cut: the more tech-savvy you are, the less television you watch. Broadband users watched on average 12 hours of television per week, two less than offline people.  

    The study went further, replacing the old monikers of “computer geeks” and “Luddites” with “technology optimists” (people who believe technology will make life more enjoyable) and “technology pessimists” (those indifferent or even hostile to technology). The study revealed that pessimists outnumber optimists 51 to 49 percent. In other words, our attitude on technology’s potential helpfulness defines us. Surfing the internet can certainly be frustrating, but it’s dynamic and interactive. Watching reality television is an exercise in passive voyeurism – a one-way street.  

    There is a big difference between being able to code a software program and being able to send an email. If sending an email is technologically beyond you, it is a genuine wonder how you manage to track down enough food to survive each day. Seriously.  

    The world can pass some people by, and, rather than adapting, they attempt to make everyone else feel like charlatans peddling snake oil. Technology keeps advancing because humanity keeps improving. As each day follows the last, we get smarter – or cannier – about how to get more out of our labours.  

    So the next time you mention rudimentary technology like the internet or email and someone looks at you like you’re Christopher Skase, have patience. They are the ones paddling upstream in last century’s canoe.