Historically there are certain human inventions have helped catapult humanity forward at an unprecedented rate; from the invention of simple tools, to the advent of steam-power, the harnessing of electricity through the burning of coal, the printing press, and the information super-highway, to name a few examples. Also historically we see many of these ideas in their simplest or more advanced forms superseded by a newer technology or idea as innovation and social cooperation increases, or are left behind altogether as the climate of human activity shifts.
Tool-making has allowed us to create better and more precise tools, and all of these technologies have evolved from the common ancestor of a tool like the first stone hammer. But we see technologies and ideas, as they become more precise leaving behind old ways of doing things in favour of better and more efficient modes. For example, steam-power was ousted by the advent of the internal combustion engine, and that looks to be superseded by more efficient models of propulsion. Coal power, now considered to be dirty and dangerous, has been superseded by nuclear fission, and possibly soon again by nuclear fusion. The printing press, in it’s letterset format, has been ousted by offset printing, and now by digital printing, and even that looks to be superseded by digital devices such as the iPad or Kindle, and while there is a resurgence of “handmade” in the world of print, this is mostly from a sense of nostalgia; that kind of printing will never be seen in the mainstream again. That’s the thing about progress, it progresses.
Obsolescence of Ideas | Martin S Pribble
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