Americans seem to be in love with their high-tech gadget. Cell phones with customized ring tones, personal digital assistants with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless networking, high-speed broadband Internet connections, and software applications that provide greater processing power and accuracy than our parents ever dreamed about are available to us 24 hours a day, 365.242199 days a year.
But for all the hype about technological gadgets, most of us in the United States aren’t hip. According to a reported released today by the Pew Internet and American Life Project less than a third of Americans are high-end technology adopters. For this small group of Americans technology comes first. They’re willing to disconnect their wired telephones in favor of wireless cell phones; e-mail may be their principle communication tool; and the Internet defines their news and entertainment sources.
The Pew report is enlightening from many perspectives. For me, I was shocked to read how few Americans value technology as tool for maintaining communication.
One of the greatest social changes I’ve witnessed in the last two decades is the ready acceptance of and consequent dependence on computer-based technology. It seems to me that many Americans have the latest electronic gadget, whether it’s a cell phone that can e-mail color photographs or an MP3 CD player that plays continues music for over eight hours, never repeating a song. Me, I’m partial to PDA technology. I can’t remember my appointments, client phone numbers, or passwords; without my handheld digital computer, I’d have to return to carrying my leather portfolio wherever I go (and that can’t hang from my belt).
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Pew Internet & American Life Project