Understanding technology today
Technology is not an industry, but a way to change the cultural and economic conditions of existing systems and institutions. It can be a bit difficult to understand technology as just a set of consumer products purchased. But technology is much deeper than the phones we have, and if we are to make the right decisions about how technology companies shape lives, especially if we want to influence those actual manufacturing technologies.
Even those of us who have long been immersed in the tech world may miss the drivers that affect their impact. So here we will identify some key principles that will help us understand the place of technology in culture.
What you need to know:
Most technologies are not from startups or startups.
Only about 15% of programmers work in startups, and in many large tech companies, most employees are not even programmers. So focusing on defining technology through the habits or culture of programmers who work at well-known startups has seriously distorted the way technology is seen in society. Instead, we should consider that most people who create technology work in organizations or institutions that we don't consider to be "technology" at all.
Moreover, there are many independent tech companies-small independent stores or home-run businesses that make websites, applications or custom software, and many of the most talented programmers prefer the culture of these organizations or challenge the famous tech giants. We should not obliterate the fact that startups are only a small part of technology, nor should the extreme culture of many startups distort our view of technology as a whole.
The economic model of large companies distorts all technologies.
This model looks completely different from our view of traditional growth companies, which started out as small businesses and developed primarily by attracting customers who pay directly for goods or services. Companies that adopt this new model can grow faster and larger than older companies that must rely on paying customers to grow their revenues. However, these new companies are also much less accountable for entering markets, as they serve the short-term interests of investors before meeting the long-term interests of users or the community.
For companies without venture capital, the prevalence of this business plan makes competition nearly impossible. A conventional company that has grown from making money from customers has withstood such long losses and cannot afford it. This is not a level playing field, which usually means that the company either has very little independent effort or a behemoth with very few in between. The end result looks a lot like the film industry, where there are mini-independent art films and large superhero blockbusters, while others are rare.
What is the biggest cost of these large new technology companies? Hire a coder. They spend most of their investment money on hiring and retaining programmers who will build new technology platforms. Very few of these huge sums of money are invested in things that can serve the community or build equity for anyone other than the company's founders or investors. There is no doubt that building a very valuable company should also mean creating a lot of jobs for many different types of people.
Technology is about fashion as well as function.
For outsiders, creating an application or device is a super-rational process, and engineers can choose the most advanced technology that is best suited for the task. In fact, the choice of something like a programming language or toolkit may be whimsical by a particular coder or manager, or it may be influenced only by fashion. Just like creating technology, the process or method of creating technology may often follow fashion or trends, which affects everything from conferences to product development.
Sometimes the creators of technology seek novelty, and sometimes they want to return to their technology wardrobe, but these choices are influenced by social factors in addition to objectively assessing the advantages of technology. Moreover, more complex technologies are not always equal to more valuable end products, so while many companies like touting how ambitious or cutting-edge their new technologies are, they do not guarantee that they will provide more value to the average user, Especially when new technology appears, it will inevitably bring new errors and unexpected side effects.