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By: Karen A. Newman
Posted: August 26, 2008, from the September 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.
Technology as the practical application of knowledge has had an undeniable impact on the way we live. One has only to look back 100 years to a time when there were no televisions or telephones, no sunscreens, advanced skin care or plastic packaging. Trade and consumer press have expanded coverage of the latest advances in ingredients, delivery systems, preservatives, fragrances and much more. Certainly, a day doesn’t go by without news of the latest gadget for TV watching/music listening/Web surfing/phone calling all in the palm of your hand. The pace of technology has been on a steep upward trend for the past 50 years, and shows no signs of abating; in fact, the opposite is the more likely scenario: acceleration. Advances have come organically, building upon technologies of previous eras.
Tom Johnson blogs about emerging technologies—including blogging (itself), podcasting, wikis, open source and Web 2.0—and how they can be applied to his specialty, technical writing (www.idratherbewriting.com).
In a post dated July 24, 2007, he wrote that “Paul Saffo, a well-known figure on future studies, explains that every 30 years or so, a new technology transforms society. In the earlier part of the 20th century, the transforming technology was chemistry [medicines, plastics]. Then developments in physics followed [atomic energy, circuits]. Now information technology is transforming society. In the 21st century, the change will be biological.”
Certainly, the beauty industry has reaped major benefits from 20th century advances in chemistry and will continue to feel the impact as researchers explore and apply nanotechnology, biotechnology and more.
In that same blog post, Johnson wrote about a podcast in which the founder of a software application described the accelerated pace of new releases into the hands of users by saying “users like an accelerated development cycle. Software that stagnates, which isn’t updated but every year and a half, loses its appeal to users.”