Tangible Technology

Old TV

I have a brother who is a bright guy--but he hates technology. I don’t really know why or even how to describe it, but he just always prefers to avoid technology. He has an analog watch and an old non-digital camera. He uses a real alarm clock instead of an iPhone. And now he’s telling my parents that he doesn’t want to go to college, because he wants to “make real things” instead of work with computers. I totally understand that not everyone goes to college to make a good living, but I’m worried about my brother’s attitude toward computers and tech. Is it really possible to make a good living these days without dealing with technology at all?

You are certainly correct to say that you don’t need to go to college to make a decent wage. While college graduates earn higher salaries, on average, than non-graduates, some non-graduates can make very good money. Government statistics highlight at least 13 careers for high school graduates with median salaries over $60,000 a year. However, this does not necessarily mean that you can earn a great living while ignoring technology.

The idea that technology is separated from “real” work by some invisible barrier just doesn’t hold up to much inspection. The fabrication experts at CMS North America, a company behind high-performance CNC machines and solutions, have built their entire business around servicing high-tech systems and machines. With the precision levels necessary for fabrication of everything from automotive to aerospace parts, they fully understand the level of complexity involved in even the smallest repair to one of their CNC machines. Precise physical manufacturing is parallel to precise digital processes as well, as even top tech companies deal with real and tangible design aspects as well. Computers exist to make this stuff easier, not to offer some parallel product-free universe.

And the physical manufactured goods that sit on the other side of your brother’s imagined border are just as eager to integrate technology into their business plan.  The automotive accessories experts at Wheel Area say they’ve seen cars and other vehicles be absolutely transformed by technology over the past few decades. Electronic sensors, engine compartment computers, and on-board navigation systems are now typical in vehicles.

What about small service or retail businesses? Well, there’s no escaping technology there, either. Even if your shop deals exclusively in low-tech vintage goods, you’ll still need to attract customers. Experts say that happens online: you need to have a website and social media presence that are search engine-friendly. Among potential customers who perform a local search, 78% make a purchase offline--meaning that brick-and-mortar local businesses had better embrace online life if they want to survive.

Your brother does not have to dive head-first into technology to make a good living. But he does need to recognize that technology has become a fundamental part of the infrastructure of business. You can’t run a business without technology any more than you can run a shop without electricity or build an office miles from the nearest road. If your brother can’t truly embrace technology, perhaps he should at least make his peace with it. Speak with him about the many ways in which technology makes the tangible more useful, and try to help him see that computers aren’t just for dealing with the inconsequential or the imaginary: they’re for real-world tasks and really hard work.

“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.” -- Dean Kamen


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