Rotarian Brad Tarver on Technologies Demystified

“Technology is pervasive, intricate, and above all, confounding,” opened Rotarian Brad Tarver at the Rotary Club of Marlin meeting on Jan. 31, 2024.  

Tarver continued, “Laptops, cellphones, smartTVs, and many other devices are merely a small onboard computer attached to some input/output device (e.g. a touchscreen is a keyboard/mouse/monitor combined into one device).”

“There is nothing new under the sun...most modern technology is repackaging of old technology. Progress is incremental, and a lot of what changes we encounter in technology are actually just new ways of using old components.” It is interesting that one of the earliest and most well-known devices was an abacus. But fast-forward, some members present at Rotary’s meeting recalled punch cards, the primary data entry medium through the early 1970s. And, everyone recalled the electronic general-purpose digital computer that filled a room. Then in the 1970s, “…the floppy disk was incredible…We could record a lot of data,” added Rotarian Roger Nutt. The floppy disk, a magnetic storage medium made from plastic and metal, could hold anywhere from 100 KB to 1.44 MB of data. It was eventually made obsolete by CDs and flash drives.

“Today most of us intuitively understand that our TVs, iPads, laptops, and cell phones are just different variations of a computer. Security cameras, drones, robotics, weather monitors, trail cams - most modern technology just connect sensors (camera, thermometers, etc.) or motors to a low-power computer,” says Tarver.

Technology affects six areas: mechanical, medical, communications, electronic, and industrial and manufacturing. Deciding which technologies to adopt is among the biggest challenges for business leaders. 

Rotarians agreed that responding to the rapidly changing environment and the challenges that their organizations faced when evaluating and implementing new technologies has been critical. The emergent socio-technical relationships to foreground social change and transformative action depend on digital literacy. To this, Rotary’s Program Presenter on Technologies Demystified Brad Tarver suggests, “Everyone has learned the core concepts of computer programming: adding, multiplying and, worst of all, long division! Don’t let jargon and packaging overwhelm you!”

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