In its typical trend-declaring manner, the New York Times today proclaimed “We’re All Nerds Now.” My first reaction? Yeah, not most lawyers.
The thought-provoking Sunday Review section article goes on to recount how the Internet and personal technology, among other things, has integrated geek culture into the mainstream. The writer even goes on to bolster his contention by quoting people like actor Wil Wheaton of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame and the guy who had the hit 1980s song “She Blinded Me With Science” (he is a professor now at Johns Hopkins).
Further proof? Apple last week announced its version of a wristwatch, looking something right out of “Dick Tracy,” but cooler, I guess. And did you know that Game of Thrones, complete with fire-breathing dragons, is the most popular program ever on HBO. Microsoft just bought Minecraft’s maker for $2 billion last week, and Amazon paid $1 billion several days earlier for Twitch.tv, where you can watch your favorite video game player hard at work. Oh, and a Millennial shall lead them.
Well, guess that cements it. Get out the pocket protectors and call it a day, right? Instead of technology and entertainment moving us forward, it seems we’ve actually just caught up with the enlightened. One last quote from the story, from a self-proclaimed nerd, sums it all up: “The world maybe isn’t getting smarter. But it is trying to.”
Nothing like journalism, the “first draft of history,” to so completely ignore history — and its context. We certainly live in an age where technology has once again vaulted us forward into a somewhat uncertain future. Where does wearable technology take us, at the end of the day? Is the coming so-called Internet of Things (abbreviated IoT for your convenience), really a good thing? The answers are, most definitely, forward and yes (probably).
But let’s not forget that we’ve been around these parts before. I heard an unforgettable quote at a conference earlier this year, talking about disruption in the legal profession. Here it goes: History doesn’t repeat. It rhymes.
We have elevated technology, and Silicon Valley, and geeks and nerds, and everything associated with all this stuff to some kind of uber-cult status. Good or bad, it’s not the first time technology has transformed how we live, work and play. Technology — and its constant advance — has been around a long time. Before the Internet and semiconductors, there were jet planes and automobiles that changed our lives. What about electricity and telephones? Heck, how about the printing press? Agriculture? Fire?
Some perspective is called for as we keep touting the latest “gee whiz” moments. It’s way cool that you can make a phone call from your watch and surf the Internet from your glasses. Folks from a couple centuries ago would have rightfully called it sorcery.
The point is that the world is getting smarter. That’s not going to stop, ever. And you have to keep up, especially if you’re a professional. (Ah, I bet you wondered when I might start talking about lawyers again.) You don’t have to have a watch that takes selfies, but maybe you should take some time to check out Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook and at least understand what social media means, how it works and what it might do for you. Just a not-so-random thought. You don’t have to be a geek to embrace technology, and it absolutely won’t make you a nerd if you do, despite the Times’ contention.
You’ll just be a person living and working in the 21st Century. Welcome.
So what do you think? Coming on the blog this week and next, I will have some pretty interesting proof that the biggest, brightest and best law firms in the United States still don’t have a clue about social media and broadcasting content, just another indication of how they’re still figuring out how to deal with various not-so-new technologies.