Are technology advancements creating gaps instead of bringing us together?

Isn’t technology supposed to flatten the world’s landscape?  Ever wonder if it’s creating a gap?  In a time when it is more and more fashionable to support local businesses – are video technology advances and the social networking movement actually creating a gap instead of bringing us together?

Not long ago I sat in on a social networking seminar during a tradeshow; the person sitting next to me shook his head the entire time and was entirely resistant to the idea.  As we talked, I learned he simply preferred a more traditional way of doing things.  He carried a cell phone, but not a smart phone.  No laptop.  Used a day planner to keep track of his appointments.   Resisted the idea of social networking because he didn’t want his competitors to know what he was doing.  He thought that a web presence and social networking was not only a bad idea for him competitively, but because he was targeting a client base that wanted to only to business with someone “local” and that a large web presence would make him look too big.   I asked “If you don’t get on board now, do you think you’ll be missing the boat 2 years from now? ”  He answered simply “No”.

Can we as a society support local business but embrace the technology as well?  Can local business embrace the technology but still be seen as “mom and pop” shop?

I recently visited my own doctor and as he asked about how life and work was going, I mentioned our initiatives in the healthcare space with Telehealth – his response was basically “umm, no”.   His resistance surprised me considering the speed in which applications in Telehealth are growing.  Video and technology to reach patients in rural areas or to provide specialists collaboration – stuff that was science fiction not all that long ago.  It’s not that he was against Telehealth, but he firmly believes that there is a level of care you cannot possibly replicate with video no matter how great the quality.  But, what about the people who were not getting care at ALL before advances in video, surely this movement is beneficial for them?

Can our healthcare providers provide the same level of care we have grown to expect in person via video?

Then we have advances in education.  It’s more than just video in the classroom – initiatives like the Flipped Classroom, Distance Learning and Virtual Field trips are literally changing the way kids are educated.  It’s so different form 20 years ago, even 5 years go.  My Son’s preschool class has an iPad – his 4 year old vocabulary includes words like “app” “touch screen” and “eBook”.  But for every classroom and school who has embraced these changes, there are ones who resist.  Teachers who resist altering their lesson plans to include streaming video, video conferencing or iPads.  Or districts who simply do not have the resources to integrate this into their curriculums and allow their students fully participate.

Can our teachers embrace video technology and get the same end result?

How can I, we, – as integrators, manufacturers, marketers, consumers of evolving technology get the “umm, no’s” of the world on board?   Are the speeds of advances we are seeing in the industry of video technology too fast?  So fast that they are actually creating a bigger and bigger gap, one that despite our best efforts of spreading the message – continues to get wider instead of closer together?

I suppose this is not a new question.  But perhaps we need some new answers.