How Our World Is Changing
This morning, in the business section of my thinning local newspaper, I was reading about an start-up that is creating a app for our local bus service. Basically, people could order their bus passes – daily or monthly – through their smartphones. The process is more efficient, less costly for the bus provider and less of a hassle for the riders. A win for everyone.
A couple of months ago, my husband and I visited an open house. The home was built in the 50’s. There was a small table in the hall way with an old black Ma Bell telephone. I picked up the receiver. It was heavy. A lot heavier than the cell phone sloshing around in my pocket.
Yesterday, I saw a bunch of Rand & McNally maps in an office supply store. I couldn’t recall the last time I needed a “paper” map. With Google, Siri and Garmin was there a need for a paper map? Yes, they could be beautiful, but if marketing is about filling a need, then is there a ‘real need’ for a Rand & McNally map?
I thought it would be nice to visit my favorite book store, the one with the great coffee, but it closed six months ago. It was Borders. I haven’t found a good replacement.
While doing some spring cleaning this year, I tossed all of our Yellow Page directories. Not just the six new directories delivered to our porch, but the three worn versions in our kitchen drawer. We hadn’t used them in years.
On my to do list is to check out Professor Michael Sandel‘s online course called ‘Justice’. It is free from Harvard, along with 499 other courses.
Last night I was re-reading Michael Lewis’ book, Next, about Danny Hillis and Bill Joy – two techno-elites – who paved the path we are now on. In this particular chapter, Lewis describes how these industry leaders had begun to question where all of these technology would lead us. They were asking this question in 1999, thirteen years ago. I don’t know that either have discovered an answer.
It is easy to get juiced up by the cool gadgets technology has brought us. I also love all of the marketing data or new online marketing techniques that technology continues to facilitate.
But one thing is very clear. Our everyday world has and is changing significantly. Not just a little bit, but a lot.
I don’t want to stop time or hang on to old technology or old marketing approaches. But I worry. I worry about the little ma and pa shops that make-up my community and yours. My individual efforts to buy local and to do what I can to support these little business owners isn’t enough. I know that. So do the business owners.
While I try to encourage local business owners to update their marketing ways and to consider online applications, I am but one. Some listen. Most are tired and weary of the struggle.
I also know that with each new commercial vacancy, it will be more difficult to find a new tenant. Fewer young business owners will want a brick and mortar presence when they can market their products and services online for a fraction of what it would cost to operate in our community.
I wonder what will happen to all of the shopping mall space, all of the strip centers. Who will want or need this space? What will my community look like in 5, 10 or 20 years down the road? What will your community look like?
I don’t have the answers, but hope someone is seriously pondering these questions and will create some solutions.
What things have you noticed dying off as a result of technology? Which do you miss? What solutions do you think we should consider?
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