The fact that we as a society no longer have time for reading full-length novels, listening to whole albums or watching an entire film without pausing the DVD (or download) umpteen times might only be a curiosity for some, but this writer finds it a concern and also astonishing in a way. I think our brains and how we process stimulus and activities are changing, irrevocably. There is, of course, nothing I can do about this multi-tasking, attention deficit culture we live in, and at risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon, there are also tremendous new advances and technologies occurring daily that make ‘now’ perhaps special. Children, or teens, for instance, are growing frontal lobes at a rate redolent of a Kurt Vonnegut story –developing new software in their parents’ garage, branding it and becoming lauded entrepreneurs long before losing their virginity. Amazing really.
The BBC reported on a new Wunderkind, who has developed a news summarizing App to go along with our collective need to encapsulate our lives in small micro-bites. The App in question, called Summly, is the brainchild of a precocious 17-year-old Londoner named Nick D’Aloisio. His invention has “merged algorithm with beautiful design. It’s summarizing thousands of articles every minute.” And judging from the interview on the BBC, this kid has his game down. When you realize that a new generation of teens are not just developing technology, but also the whole package around a successful business model – you have to applaud where this advanced new culture is heading. For instance, what seventeen-year-old talks like this: “I see big visions for the company longer term,” the teenager said. “We can really become the de-facto format for news on mobile. People are not scrolling through 1,000-word articles – they want snack-sized information.” Jesus, I guess I should shut up and just go back to chopping wood, walking to work and reading my beaten-up edition of Tolstoy in paperback. Clearly, I’ve been outrun. Welcome to now.