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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why Not Technology News?

Disclaimer:  After a glass of wine and watching the network news on television, I decided to have an "Andy Rooney Moment" and bitch.  (For those of you who don't know who Andy Rooney is, he's on CBS's 60 Minutes but you can get a sense of his style here.)

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If you want to find stories about what's new in science, just open almost any newspaper or magazine.  The New York Times has a whole section on Tuesdays.  Scientific American, Science, Nature, Discover, and a host of other media outlets have a constant parade of what's new in most scientific areas, including stories, blogs, Tweets, and Facebook listings.

But what if you are more interested in technology?  Well, if you are talking "hi-tech" - which is to say the web, cellphones, social networking, e-readers, or a host of other personal technology - you don't have much trouble finding out the latest news.  Everybody runs stories.  David Pogue in the NY Times is a big source for me but so is Gizmodo, Tech Crunch, CNET, and a boat load of other websites.

I find most of the hi-tech stuff interesting but not very inclusive.  If I want to know what's new in other technology areas (which includes virtually any area other than electrical engineering and computer science), I  have to do some digging.  Even Popular Science and Popular Mechanics come up short when it comes to the cutting-edge of new, non-silicon technology.  Why is that?  Why is science and hi-tech news so easy to come by yet other technology news so hard to find?  Don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge any of these other areas their news streams.  People should know something about science and certainly most of the younger crowd wants to know what's the New New in wireless and personal tech.

But we seem to have hit the Yawn Threshold when it comes to other technologies.  It doesn't seem to matter whether they launch a Space Shuttle or complete an enormous bridge across the Colorado River (as they just did), you would be hard pressed to know anything like this is happening.  And yet, it is this very same technology that underpins so much of our lives.  You might think that Green Energy news would be everywhere but it gets buried under the deluge of social networking and political noise on the web.  Same goes for the fact that our economy is in shambles because we are losing our older technology base (read: manufacturing economy) that kept this country going for the last century.

I realize that this sounds a bit jaded, especially from a blogger who writes about the history of technology.  While I admit to being biased, I think that most people can find something of interest in the technology that makes the world they live in possible - even if it is only from the human interest side of the story.  Maybe you even want to protest against a technology but at least you might be better informed about it. And some positive news might just get some kid interested in a great career path.  I would love to see a front page headline in the major newspapers of this country with something like, "Largest Solar Installation in the World Goes Online."  But I'm not holding my breath.

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Post-Disclaimer:  When the wine imbibed is metabolized, a sense of calm returns... for better and for worse.

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