Should we embrace every new bit of technology that comes our way?
Updated: Jan 16
Should you jump to the latest iPhone, flashy computer or buzzing bit of tech? Whether you're a budding marketing professional or design guru this article might provoke you into thinking twice before you jump to the latest software or hardware application looking to enhance productivity or creativity.
Betamax vs VHS
I remember the excitement of my parents receiving the family's first video recorder – only after lengthy debates. We had a dilemma back in the late 1970s, which format would the World embrace, Betamax or VHS? Betamax was introduced in May 1975 by Sony and was established within the domestic and business market long before VHS which was launched in Japan by JVC in October 1976 and later in the US by RCA in August 1977. Video shops were a rarity and film releases limited, but rentals were provided in both formats. We owned a Betamax video recorder which at the time was the leading format in handheld camcorders. However, VHS was taking off and advancements in its drum technology meant it was a strong contender to Betamax. Both options were very expensive and I remembered it being a big family decision. Due to brand loyalty, we decided to rent a Betamax video recorder. This proved to be a wise decision as VHS for various reasons became the market leader and Betamax was eventually phased out. My parents eventually took out a small mortgage and bought a VHS recorder. As a child, I didn’t care for Betamax or VHS as long as I got to watch Star Wars over and over again!
Keeping Pace With Technology
My Star Wars video’s now collect dust along with my video recorder which sits idle under the TV... having been superseded long ago by the DVD player. The DVD format now redundant, replaced by on-demand digital TV and cloud storage. Who would have thought all those years ago I would be watching Star Wars clips through a smart phone? Below are a few examples of how entertainment formats have changed during my lifetime.
Reel to Reel superseded by vinyl
33, 45, 78 Vinyl formats superseded by Cassettes
Cassettes replaced by CD’s
CD’s challenged by Mini Disks
CD’s superseded by MP3’s
CV gates replaced by MIDI (music interface)
Video Cassettes superseded by DVD’s
Analogue replaced by Digital
Everything replaced by Online Streaming Services!
It’s quite frustrating to think of the money I have invested in vinyl, cassettes, video cassettes and DVDs over the years. Luckily I still have turntables to play my vinyl on and my cassette tape collection was painstakingly digitised a few years back.
Intel co-founder Gordon Moore had a bold prediction, popularly known as Moore’s Law which states that the number of transistors on a chip will double approximately every two years – and he was right. Technology today moves at an ever-increasing pace, especially with design software. I remember when QuarkXpress was the leading desktop publishing software dominating 90% of the market share. Nobody would have thought that within two years it would be knocked from the top spot by Adobe InDesign which had advanced editing features at half the price. Adobe InDesign now has 90% of the market share with a subscription-based pricing structure which is great as software improvements happen on a regular basis – not once every 18 months. It was a similar story with Freehand and Illustrator, freehand being a better application in my opinion. I remember in the early days of Apple-based Graphic Design that it was imperative you demonstrated Freehand experience on your CV. Where’s Freehand today? I haven’t seen it in a studio in the last 16 years.
As a designer, it’s a dilemma as to know where to invest my time and energy in technology and training. Which software and hardware will be around in years to come and which will go the way of the Dodo. Obviously, there is a natural evolution in software development, keeping up with the latest releases is par for the course. To think of all the time I have invested in developing my understanding of HTML code! After canvassing opinions from developers back in the day I was right to hold out on getting additional Flash training. Flash, like Quark, went the way of the Dodo. Another good example was the latest development news from Adobe – a Beta program called Muse which allows you to build websites without HTML knowledge. I invested a lot of time learning that application – some of the knowledge was transferrable but Muse, like Adobe Flash has been discontinued. The rise of online WYSIWYG editors like Squarespace, Shopify, Wix, and Webflow with integrated SEO, EDM and numerous 3rd party plugins killed Adobe Muse.
It’s important to keep abreast of the latest software and hardware developments especially working within the technology sector. However, history has taught me to adopt a pragmatic approach through working smarter and try and avoid 'magpie' syndrome where you jump from one shiny thing to another. In my opinion, It’s better to proceed with caution rather than embrace everything new bit of tech, gadgetry or applications promising 'creative' K-Pow at the click of a mouse before jumping in with both feet.
The power of the internet has transformed not only business but our daily lives. The speed at which digital can bring us news, updates, keep us connected and deliver goods to our doors the next day is scary. Sometimes new developments bring us that much-needed shortcut which inevitably speeds up a process or working methodology. However, this technology sometimes fails to keep pace with the speed at which the human mind can work. I noticed this years ago as processors became faster and faster. When designing you need time to think and ponder your digital decisions to be able to achieve the best result. Clearly, you don't want to fall foul of machine lag – a faster processor speeds rendering large photoshop files, working on actual size print files for exhibitions or viewing motion graphics on playback in After Effects for example.
I Can Do That
One downside to cheap software, smartphones, DSLR Cameras and graphics software the average person thinks they are Neville Brody or David Bailey. And to be fair some of them produce some pretty impressive results – but can they do that daily, day-in-day-out on B2B or B2C products and services. The Creative sector especially digital has become commoditised – I can do that, why should I pay for you to do it, and if I do, I'm not paying that much because ABC Creative down the road can do it cheaper. That's true to a point, but professional expertise and experience come at a price. You can go on eBay and buy a stethoscope for £20 – but that doesn't make you a Doctor. Working on creativity requires years of expertise and professional training and to be able to deliver cut-through print and digital solutions at the click of a finger daily, years of training in college and on the job is what makes a 'professional' Graphic Designer. It is estimated that once a designer has graduated it takes another 10 years to truly grasp good typographic skills!
As we go kicking and screaming into another new year, we wonder how life will change in the workplace. To quote Facebook or Meta, 'Connection is evolving, and so are we', but that begs the question, will we? I mean, will we change or benefit from it? We've already seen a massive shift to online meetings via Zoom, Google, Teams and Facebook video messenger whilst working from home. However, with the time gained not commuting, we've lost socialising and co-working with colleagues, can we truly replace face-to-face? Perhaps that's one massive advantage of the Metaverse, a 3D reality where we can all meet, learn, collaborate and share. Sadly, I remember at the start of my career being adamant that I wouldn't work on computers but instead be a marker visualiser, but here I am lovingly embracing the latest Macbook Pro with an M1 Max chipset as I write this blog. It remains to be seen if Mark Zuckerberg's bet on Meta and the Metaverse will pay off... my kids will naturally love it as native Minecraft enthusiasts! Now, has anyone seen my Google augmented glasses? I need to take the Sinclair C5 for a spin! At Source, we believe in humans first. Technology should work for us, facilitating and assisting in producing great creative solutions. In Sir Ken Robinson's revised book 'Out Of Our Minds' he writes extensively that our ability to think divergently and how it's what sets us apart from machines both in today's world and hopefully in the world of the future – for our kid's sakes! To truly produce great results and deliver creative campaigns that work you must first return to the organic world and put pen to paper. Once you have that strategy or amazing concept you can then use the latest technology to bring it to life across multiple platforms and marketing channels.
If you would like to take your creativity to the next level then get in touch today.
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