Living in a time of rapid innovation, you might start to take change for granted. You may overlook something amazing just because there are so many amazing changes happening all around us. It is easy to miss seeing potential advantages—and disadvantages—of new technologies.
Take digital imaging, for instance. Digital imaging is the ability to convert film, video and other images into a format that can be processed by a computer. Ever use a scanner or a digital camera? You were doing digital imaging. Digital imaging has also given special effects a starring role in movies today. Special effects a movie director would have thought impossible ten years ago are now routine using digital imaging. Even more amazing, the tools for digital imaging have become less and less expensive. It no longer requires a Hollywood budget to produce these effects. Independent film producers with digital video cameras are creating award-winning films, editing their films and creating special effects on personal computers and even posting them on the Web.
Digital imaging is becoming so common, we might forget to think critically about what we are seeing. We shouldn't. The ability to easily manipulate images carries with it some real concerns and responsibilities. Photo-enhancing software makes it hard to tell whether an image is authentic or not. It's an easy matter to put a figure from one photograph into the background of another. With not too much work, you could make it look like you were there with Roald Amundsen, first person to reach the South Pole. The same thing could be done with a film. If you didn't know something was a special effect, you could mistake it for being real if it was presented that way. A news photograph could easily be altered to influence your perception of a story.
How can you become a better observer of change and all its consequences? Try spending a week where every time you use something, you think about how long it's been around for you to use. When did it come into your life? Is it old technology with new digital features that significantly change it? Is it something that required you and everyone else to learn new skills? What kind of an impact is it having on society? What potential is there to misuse it?
Be sure to think about whether it's part of the digital world, too. Do you think there is a microprocessor in the device you're using? Do you think one day there will be?
Here's a list of some of the devices you might use and think about: