There are things that do not change.

We still have physical needs. We sleep, we eat, we need to socialize with our
friends and family, and so on. We also still see, hear, and perceive sights, sound, and
motion. It might be quite interesting to consider some devices that
handle site and sound (or media, as they say) and look at how technological
progress changes our ability to manipulate these media and perhaps changes our
perception of what sites and sounds can tell us.


For creative types (musicians, photographers, and filmmakers) it’s
quite common that their entire digital environment is built around the systems
they use to manipulate their medium. I think that this will be increasingly common
as digital media systems mimic, and eventually replace, all forms of analogue and chemical
systems for those practitioners, both professional and amateur.


A very useful example of how changing technology changes the devices that process a medium
which does not change, but the manipulation of which changes our view
of the world, is photographic and cinematic devices. That is, digital photography
and digital video. This change is not just that these devices have gotten smaller and
easier to operate and now allow a person with average technical skills to obtain
better graphic images, either still or moving. The technical development of
these mediums has also meant that the processes used to obtain the pictures
are also much easier to manage than in the past. What is important here is that
the chemical process of film (either moving or still) is being supplanted by
a magnetic analogue process (for video, at any rate) and then that is being
supplanted by a process by which the images are captured and stored and displayed
entirely by digital means. This has had (and will continue to have) great effect
on how easily we can use these mediums and how much we expect them to be available
to us at any time.


In both of these media, as well as with digital music, there are dozens of examples of changing devices that
handle the physical properties of media, the properties themselves of which,
ostensibly, don’t change. We’re just scratching the surface here but read more
about Digital Photography, Digital Video, Digital Music.


Notwithstanding the preceeding discussion, I believe there are certainly limits
on how much technology, especially digital technology, can be expected to change
our lives.One example that technology isn’t likely to change much for us is
our physical environment and how it affects us. This is, for the most part,
a subject for another essay but here’s a brief overview.


We all feel the weather. We all have some feeling for the weather in our own
locale and even though weather forecasting is greatly more accurate than it
has been in the past, we still benefit from our own understanding of what our
various feelings of weather mean for us in the short term.


I live in a west coast city (Vancouver) and, although I’m about 4km from tidewater,
I am 150km from the open ocean. Further, there are 1,000m-high mountains between
me and the ocean. Most of us in western North America are aware that we live
in an area of westerly airflows that gives us a westerly flow of weather. However,
the low-pressure systems that normally dump rain on this part of the world,
although they move from west to east, are actually circular patterns and this
means that where I live, weather can just as often come from the
east as from the west. This isn’t something that I read in a book or was taught
at school. In fact, my Dad taught this to me. He was born and raised here. My
own experiences living here, of course, have served to bolster and fine-tune
this knowledge. This is one of these counter-intuitive things that
I don’t think technology, or a media-rich digital environment affects as much
as the passing of generational knowledge and personal observation.


Go to Information Literacy