Call me a fanboy. I’ve probably earned the title. I love researching what’s next and watching to see where technology takes us. Seeing iteration happen in real time throughout our lives is a magical experience. When I see something new, I’m often inclined to jump on the band-wagon and give it a shot. It’s can be an exciting exploration of what’s possible and what’s feasible. Inevitably, I learn something in the process and I am glad I did.
The problem is that not everyone is the same. Some people love change and want to explore the new possibilities of technology. Others fear it and want to keep things exactly the way they are right now. Another group could care less and just do whatever is recommended by a friend or an advisor. Everyone has different values and so we’re left with a segmented population where tech adoption rates are different.
As it relates to the web, I see two main areas where this plays out. First, is what I call the browser wars. We have such a variety of web browsers that it makes our jobs more difficult to do “web production” well for everyone. We we peer through the lenses of a litany of software and devices to inspect our work. This helps us understand a large segment of the population, but we can never capture everyone. The browser wars have gotten far less combative over the past few years and I am ever grateful. However, the problem of tech segmentation still exists, and it’s our job to help bring along those who aren’t at the cutting edge but reasonably supporting even the fringe.
The other area where tech adoption plays a role on the web are devices. The ever growing hardware and software that access the web is mind-blowing. Almost any electronic device you think of probably has a web-accessible version. We even have refrigerators that go online. This amazingly gargantuan influx of devices has forever changed the way the web is accessible. With the advent of smart watches, this pushes the boundaries of web consumption to a whole new scale. How do we consume the web on a watch? This question has been at the front of my mind since I saw the first versions of Android Wear starting to appear. (I still don’t have a great answer.)
Nevertheless, you have people that consume the web on such a broad spectrum of devices that we need to build and design for every conceivable viewport. Whether it’s a tiny wrist-sized gadget, projection on the lens of glasses, holographic representation of a web site or other inconceivable contraption, we need to prepare and build for the devices of tomorrow.
Whether you want to admit it or not, progress is dependent upon new technologies being adopted. Virtual Reality is a perfect case for this. Those jumping in on the ground floor and getting knee deep into the murky waters of VR are helping to define how this quickly emerging market is going to pan out. I’m excited to see what happens and how it will push the boundaries of the web I build every day.
Before we wrap up, I can hear the shouts coming from the back row. “You can’t just fully adopt every new technology that comes along!” You are right and I agree with you. However, fully adopting and exploring the potential of them are two very different things. I am challenging you to explore the potential of a new software or device. I am asking you to consider the potential benefits it may have. Even if you decide against it, you will gain valuable knowledge in the process. This will give you an advantage in the way you can think about your status quo.
Let’s work hard to give new technologies a fair evaluation. We’ll all be better off because of it.