software is now a cornerstone of the world economy. modern life runs through the internet. even if you personally avoid the internet, you depend on it.
but the baby boomer generation, represented by these politicians has not understood it. they know engineers as the guys building houses, bridges, aeroplanes, rockets. but software? it is an invisible world to them. child's play. how hard can it be to build the internet vs. the hoover dam.
i don't think this will change soon nor can it be actively changed. we need to wait till this generation simply dies out and gets replaced by the ones who grew up with computers. for a larger part of society in the western hemisphere, that means birthdates in the 1970s. yes, gates, jobs were born earlier, but the majority of their users were born later. they were visionaries, outliers.
and the circle will begin again, facebook generation vs. privacy defenders. and who knows whats after that...genetics?
For example, I enter elementary school, the internet started to take off and browsers were primitive. Nowadays, we can enjoy the convenience of movie streaming, fast browsers, and extraordinary rich video games(Dwarf Fortress, I am looking at you). So it doesn't make sense to me that congressmen are literal dinosaurs. Rather, I think they stop updating their model of the world and refuse to absorb any knowledge for the last couple of decade.
In any case, the situation with copyright is not new. If you look at the issue centuries ago, you would realize that we been having this debate for a long time. Today, the internet only make pirating easier than ever and bring the issue of copyright to the forefront of public consciousness.
We thought about "old versus new" business model because we lack an understanding of the history of copyright. In reality, it have much more to do about how your model of how to make money.
i got my first mobile phone in that time frame.
my parents were born after ww2. your time as a youth shapes you, forms your understanding of the world. you translate everything you see into analogies of the past. a mobile phone is a like a normal phone without a cord. easy. but wrong for the generation that grew up with mobile phones.
my parents grew up with black and white tv. literally no computers in sight, anywhere. they got engineering diplomas while only utilizing a calculator (high tech for their time!) and pen and paper.
the majority of people (aka normal people) who where adults before 1985 do not "get" this new world the way you do. the outliers who build microsoft even didn't get it at first.
I'm 45 years old. My parents were born during ww2. I grew up with black and white tv (okay, partly because we couldn't afford color yet...). But my dad, an unskilled immigrant, ran IT companies for most of his life, and my mother, well into her 60's, got an iPad before I did. Hell, she was on Skype when I still had a landline... She even owns a friggin' Wii.
If there are people who don't seem to "get" this new world, it's not because because they are uneducated (both my parents' education ended with highschool) or because they are "old". It's because they don't want it. They've seen more change during their lifetime than you can imagine, some it they supported (or even made happen), some of it they were against. They're perfectly capable of dealing with changing times.
These politicians see a change that erodes their power and gives it to the people, and they simply don't want that to happen. That's why they belittle us by calling us "nerds", because they consider us a threat, not because they don't "get" it.
They get it quite well, thankyouverymuch, which is exactly why they say what they say and do what they do.
Here is my thought: the Internet (e.g. the IP/TCP protocols and http) can support either large centralised systems (Facebook, Google++, Twitter &c) or atomised individual 'presences' (shivaplug server next to your router and rss as microblogging tool). I suspect we are going in the centralised direction, and that our various governments are happy with that...
I think that a lot of older people DO very much continue to keep up with all social and technological changes.
But the main point, that older generations are both socially and technologically conservative is not controversial.
I think that, despite many exceptions, this is a universal human truth.
The people in congress spent their time learning to be politicians. It wasn't until the last 15 years that you had to use a computer to do everything, so if you learned how to do what you do now more than 15 years ago, you didn't need a computer, so you probably don't know how they operate.
Not understanding the internet transcends all ages and social classes. It isn't a symptom of age, but of ignorance and incuriosity. The people we're talking about haven't even tried, they haven't bothered to look up "the internet" in an encyclopaedia, haven't bothered to ask a savvy intern to explain it to them. They're people who habitually hold strong opinions on things that they know less than nothing about - c.f. climate change.
Only if you stop learning. And by learning i mean challenging your ways of thinking and acting (think about a computer geek learning salsa dancing), not learning something similar to things you already know (think about a computer geek learning yet another programming language).
> the majority of people (aka normal people) who where adults before 1985 do not "get" this new world the way you do.
Don't be a sheep. I mean, do not get along only with people in your age bracket. Keeping an open mind, socialize with younger people: they'll teach you things, if you let them.
Disclosure: 37 year old fart here.
For last couple of centuries or so, each generation grows
up with unprecedented change in their lifetime.
And you think the cell phone is more fundamental than, say, the widespread deployment of telephones in the first place? Before then, there was no way to have a voice conversation with someone more than a 100 meters away.
When the polio vaccine was invented "church bells were ringing across the country, factories were observing moments of silence, synagogues and churches were holding prayer meetings, and parents and teachers were weeping. One shopkeeper painted a sign on his window: Thank you, Dr. Salk. 'It was as if a war had ended', one observer recalled." (Wikipedia for Jonas Salk.) That vaccine still saves the lives of 100,000s of children every year even when compared to the 1800s. For that matter, before penicillin you could die because of a rose thorn accidentally scratching your mouth, as the sad story of Albert Alexander shows.
Tell me, how is the cell phone a more fundamental change than these?
And then, every once in a while, a polio vaccine is created, and the world is different for everybody. I certainly think the WWW is one of those. Facebook might be (800 million people under one roof is something, but I'm not convicted it is really changing the world).
But, yes, overall, I think people tend to underestimate the radical changes that happened during the first half of the 20th century. By 1950, the "structure" of daily life was much closer to it was in 2000 than it was in 1900.
But then again, I think that the main difference now is the current rate of adoption of the new technologies. How many years took to build the electric system? How many years took the use of the mobile phone to become widespread? Everything moves faster and faster, and that's what is letting lots of people behind. They just can't adapt fast enough.
For example, my mother. Every time she has a new mobile phone, she asks me to teach her how to use it. I start saying, "Read the screen, think, decide and then press the buttons." Because, i tell her "if not, what will you do when even your TV has more and more menus?" Of course, she grumbles, but at least tries. And when she REALLY needs help to learn something, i help her.
And I see this pattern everywhere. Tech changes so fast now, that while a few people adapt extremely fast, and to some it takes it a little longer, to the rest, they're just tired of learning how to use new stuff, every now and then.
Let's take some examples. Your baseline is the cell phone. The first commercial mobile phone was in 1983, so you're suggesting a time span of about 25 years. (Before 1983 it was possible to connect a two-way radio through to the phone system, but that's not the point you're trying to make.) By 1988, friends of mine had car phones. The StarTac phone came out in 1996 and marks the start of "widespread consumer adoption." But I would say that it took until 2005 where it started to supplant having a land line.
The first commercial (pre-built and for consumer use) radio receiver was in 1920. That marks the start of the "golden age of radio", which ended when TVs became more popular in the late 1950s. Surely that was as fast as the uptake of cell phones.
Semiconductor transistors were invented in 1947. "Transisterization" was so fast that crew of the Minnow had a transistor radio (in 1964) and no one was surprised by it. Transitors made entirely new categories of technology possible, so that we had a transistor-based game console (Pong-style "tennis" and "racquet-ball") in ~1975.
The first commercial (synthetic) detergents were introduced in 1933 (that's when Dreft was introduced) and "by the 1950s, soap had almost been completely replaced by branched alkylbenzenesulfonates." Not bad for 20 years! Actually it was bad, because we then found out it wasn't that biodegradable and had to find a replacement.
The neon light was first presented in 1910 and "became very popular for signage and displays in the period 1920-1940."
Prohibition lasted for 13 years in the US, and had a huge impact on daily life. That surely counts as an enormous change.
Cosmetics didn't become popular in the US until the 1910s, and the flappers of the 1920 used it with a vengeance. (WP says that previously it was too closely associated with prostitution, but the post-war trend was a reaction to the previously popular demure look, and that "[a] skewed postwar sex ratio created a new emphasis on sexual beauty, and because of the influence of Hollywood.)
All these big changes took place on the same time scale as the cell phone. How then do you measure the amount of change now, and compare it to (say) the amount of change in the 1920s? When was the last time that most people were not "tired of learning how to use new stuff"?
But the scale and complexity is important too. You can't compare a radio with two dials, and a smartphone with lots of screens. It's a whole new level of effort to learn how to use it. It takes more time, and it stack over previous knowledge you are supposed to have. But I know lots of elder people who don't even know how to turn on a computer. And sadly, they reject smart phones and other new things because they just gave up.
Radios got simpler to use, in part because of the strong demand to make them simpler. They got simpler to use sometimes at the expense of more internal complexity (a starter motor for an automobile, instead of a crank) but sometimes because we just figured out an easier way to do things (Wozniak's Disk II controller is a classic hacker example) .
On the other hand, you are omitting all of the difficult, complex things we used to do, which we don't do now. Do you sew all your clothes, bedsheets, and curtains? I sure don't. Sewing isn't easy. That's a "whole old level of effort" I don't need to know. Do you regularly can or preserve your own foods? A few do, but it's easier and cheaper to buy things from the store. Until the last 1800s, many engineers and scientists learned draftsmanship (as different than art, mind you) because that was the best way to make a visual record of what you saw. Of course, the camera has nearly completely replaced that requirement, which we use to learn different things. Evolution, thermodynamics, Maxwell's equations, and more have simplified what was previously a bunch of unconnected concepts.
Our culture rides the wave of "just complex enough." If it's too complex, like early microcomputers, only a few people make the effort to learn it. It it's useful enough, then there's a lot of work put into making it simpler. When it gets simple enough, there's widespread use. So widespread use happens when something is just barely simple enough for most people to understand.
The idea you are talking about is at least 45 years old. Alvin Toffler wrote "Future Shock" in 1970 about this very topic. It popularized the phrase "information overload", which was coined in 1964. Note how someone who was 20 then would be an "elder" now.
Again I ask you, how do you judge that the rate of growth is more now than it was in the 1920s, or the 1970s? What meaningful metrics do you use, and how do you correct for you own biases of what is important? As far as I can tell, excepting the Great Depression, the amount of change and the turmoil over the amount of change has been constant for over a century.
I don't think the cell phone is that significant on its own, though it is up there with the changes others have mentioned.
What this generation is seeing isn't one massive change: it is seeing a greater concentration of significant changes than previous generations, and some of those changes when grouped together have greater impact than they would individually.
What about the railways?
I mean, I love railways, I really do, but compared to a thing like our cell phones? It would even be possible (altough quite cumbersome), to entirely live just from this thing! (Do some programming/webdesign/consulting/whatever to make money, order food and everything else online and you don't have to do anything else.)
So long as we continue on our trend of exponential technological growth, this will be tautologically true.
That's presuming strong AI is possible, of course, which I think it is.
edt: i meant this to appear underneath the comments with other pretty meaningful inventions that caused huge social change
Or the transistor?
Before that, it was affordable cars, it changed how people live, work and relax.
Before that TV.
Before that the discovery of the nuclear bomb, nuclear energy, the world would be never the same.
Before that penicillin, filtered water(no diseases in water), radio, telephone, polymers, natural gas pipes, electric light...
I find it amazing to think of the amount of changes that have gone on in the last 70-odd years - in just one life time!
For my part, I was born in 1973 and got my first computer (a Compaq Deskpro Portable) when I was twelve. I taught myself to program GW-BASIC and later QBASIC, and then pretty much abandoned computers until about 1999, when I abruptly found myself making an internal website for my department in a large corporation. (I've been building web applications for a living ever since.)
I was aware of email and the internet during the 1990s but must confess that I didn't pay much attention. I certainly didn't buy the hype coming from enthusiasts about it heralding this epochal shift that was going to transform how we all live, work, play, socialize, organize and get civilly engaged (oops).
I'm old enough to remember a time before the internet, and as a result, it fascinates me in a way that my teenage son can't really understand because it's just there for him in the same way that telephony was just there for me as a child (though I'm also old enough to remember rotary phones).
But my fascination with the internet goes beyond the fact that I watched it arrive: it fascinates me because it really is transformative in a way that other new technologies that arrived during my childhood were not. When I was growing up, our family got cable TV (remember the brown box "converter" with a line of buttons running from channel 2 to 23?), an Atari 2600 and a VCR. They were all nice consumer appliances, but none of them had anything like the transformative impact of ubiquitous internet connection.
Cable TV is already passé. When I'm consuming media rather than producing it, I prefer a la carte to the all-you-can-eat buffet. I canceled my cable ten years ago and never looked back. The internet is simply a better content delivery system than cable/satellite.
Video games are fun and entertaining, have risen technically and thematically to the level of an art form (on par with literature and film) and may yield some insights that can help us learn and stay motivated. However, the technology doesn't really drive a broader cultural shift. At most it has crowded out board games and is encroaching on TV watching as a more entertaining drop-in replacement. In any case, some of the most compelling video games owe their success as much to their online connectivity (over the internet, of course) as to their intrinsic gameplay.
VHS is not only obsolete in the particulars of the cassette technology, but in the more general sense that physical media are slow, cumbersome and wasteful compared to unlimited broadband access to digital content. The last dedicated physical media player connected to my TV was a DVD player. The next device I'm going to connect to my TV is an internet-connected media server. BluRay is simply a last-ditch effort to double-down on an already-archaic distribution system.
I am currently contracted on a project with 1.5 million lines of code and dependencies on hundreds of services written by a number of different teams. It takes a few weeks just to get new developers productive on the code base. How do you even begin to explain the complexity of this to somebody in a way they can really relate to when they barely understand computers?
As you start trying to build something that looks like the puzzle, you realise that instead of the 1,000 pieces originally estimated for the puzzle, you're going to need 5,000, and the puzzle is actually in 3 dimensions not just 2, and also the puzzle needs to fit with another puzzle built by a different team of people who had no idea your puzzle needs to fit with them. Then you find out your puzzle pieces, that you borrowed from someone else, don't work as expected with put together with certain other pieces... :)
Your supposed to design a 4 lane bridge for a new interstate, you say sure that takes 6 months where do you want it?. After 3 months they decide where they want it and expect the design in 3 more months. You say, that's not going to happen I might be able to pull 5 months though.
So, assuming you know where it's going to be you start pulling in some overtime and get to work. After another month they say, we need a 6 lane bridge, after another they want to add a train. And 2 weeks before the deadline they decide on a tunnel. SO, you end up submitting a 6 lane bridge design that can't handle trains.
Which is why software is always late, and you don't hand them what they want.
However I think this is true of a lot of fields... some people just can't grok (and don't need to grok) how an automatic transmission in their car works. I'm particularly inept when it comes to the subtleties of art and music.
But a particularly relevant analogy that I use would be that you are working at a library. (That is: a library where you can check out books, not a software library.)
Not only do you have to write a good portion of these books, but you also have to read a lot of the books in the library, and at the very least you have to read the table of contents and/or index of most of those books.
In addition to this you have to be very good at keeping the library organized, and you have to coordinate with other staff members at the library.
Smaller systems are simply a shelf or two of books, larger systems can span several buildings.
I like this analogy because most everyone can relate to it, it gives a very real physical sense of size, and I think it pretty adequately describes what a programmer has to hold in their head on a daily basis.
challenger blew up because of a fuel leak, not the lack ofi an rtos.
For instance right now I'd probably pull up the page for the Intel Core i7 and show them the transistor count.
I say: "You're now in a room. It has <transistor count> light switches. I write the instructions that tell you precisely how to flip those switches. You have <cycle time> to perform each instruction. Also it takes <x> instructions to <do some useful unit of computation>"
It's a bit exaggerated, of course, but it usually shakes their view of computers up a bit :).
In this video, we had a lot of people proudly proclaiming that they didn't have the slightest clue about how the stuff they were regulating works, made terrible and inaccurate apologies, all without bringing in experts who could inform them as to the implication of the law. To add insult to injury, rather than calling them experts, they used derogatory language to put down the very people who knew what they were talking about (lets be clear here, some people use nerd as a badge of honor, but that was clearly not how they were using the word).
The opinions expressed by our lawmakers are a reflection of mentality, not age.
It was sickening to watch the legislators praise their own ignorance. It's totally cool not to be a subject matter expert in everything - nobody expects them to be. However, it's maddening that they had not already consulted any "nerds".
It really begs the question : does this apply to all other aspects of our government? Do we draft legislation on energy, defense and immigration without consulting subject matter experts at the outset?
To them, sitting in front of a computer all day means you're not working.
I also have higher expectations from members of congress, people with allegedly good education ... "nerds"? Really?
All those congresspeople were simply regurgitating, verbatim, what lobbyists from the MPAA were whispering in their ears right before any of that televised coverage. "these are just a bunch of angry nerds"...
I now understand that this is what most, if not all congresspeople do on any issue brought before them.
We have to get more involved in the political process, people.
Our country is being run into the ground by self-serving, self-obsessed sociopaths without the humility or brainpower to even do the tiniest bit of their own research on the topics that are guiding this country.
How is this kind of language acceptable? When they listen to expert opinions from psychiatrists, do they say "let's hear from the head-shrinker"?
Or framed in a better way, before the internet it was about the radio and before that it was about the telegram. The radio was not allowed to be free, pirate stations where setup all over the place and there was a movement for free radio. It was in the spirit of that time to go for the controlled option, laws where setup to prevent independent broadcasters, without the many small radio broadcasters input to the law.
The issue is not the same, it is very similar, It is not a generational issue.
Baby boomers made the internet, baby boomers where the hippies, they are not clueless about internet or freedom. Intelligent people make you think they are stupid.
And note the parallels to Stallman's "The Right to Read" article: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html
SOPA/PIPA is just the latest attempt to bring about a world very much like what Stallman described.
The same kind of "battles" are happening this very moment around:
- Food (organic/independent versus bio-industry)
- Radio spectrum (free-for-all versus monopolies)
- Currency (many distributed ones versus one central controlled world currency)
- Identity (pseudonymous/anonymous versus centralized identity)
- Equality (equal rights versus centralization of power)
- Wealth (equally distributed versus concentrated to a few families)
- Software (open source versus closed source)
And so on... last decades, the trend seems to be toward centralization in each of them. However, for people to go along with that requires trust in the controlling entity. For example, trust that it is guided by a fair democratic process, or by "enlightened self-interest".
On the negative side, no one in the news media or whistleblowers and WTF-watchers like Jon Stewart knew what SOPA was until two days ago.
That's even scarier.
Either comedy is easier than it looks or these guys are really good at their jobs.
I vote for B.
See: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Will_Rogers His quotes from 80 years ago still sound timely.
This would be a great time in the world for some man to come along that knew something.
You can't say that civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way.
Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get beat with.
I was a little bit disappointed.
This is what Jon Stewart does. Some people say that the Daily Show is the only real news, but my counterpoint is that no, it may feel like it's coming from the right place, one of intelligent skepticism. But they aren't going out and getting fresh information about topics, they are just commenting on the lameness of existing coverage.
Or they did know of it, but didn't think it was that important. Maybe when they realised that Wikipedia et al. were willing to go dark for a day did they think "Hey maybe this is a big deal after all"
Jon Stewart showed 4 people using the word 'nerd'. Three of them were anti-SOPA! These were the congress(wo)men that were trying to bring in experts/techies/geeks/nerds/whatever. So, I'm sorry that the techies here were insulted by that word (I wasn't!) but most of the people using the word were actually fighting for your side! And if you listened to them in context (instead of such a short clip) I think you would have thoroughly agreed with them.
I can excuse Jon Stewart for ignoring this important fact here because he is, after all, a comedian.
Lofgren (Anti-SOPA) [http://lofgren.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&vi...]
Issa (Anti-SOPA) [http://issa.house.gov/]
Watt (Pro-SOPA) [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Watt#Support_of_SOPA]
Chaffetz (Anti-SOPA) [http://twitter.com/jasoninthehouse]
tl;dr: They started it :-p
So what? Were they anti-SOPA from the beginning, or just when we started getting serious pressure applied... Even if they were instinctively anti-SOPA, would it be fine if they refer to you as something similar to carnival show (okay, that's a geek), as opposed to a concerned expert in the field? That was at least my take-away from the clip, have not watched the full episode yet.
Do they refer to bankers as Till Fiddling Cash Rapists? Decorum counts for something, and we are not a side-show.
You shouldn't comment if you aren't at all informed on the subject.
My point was that The Daily Show may be slightly anti-SOPA by being liberal, but they still have a point about the fact that they:
a) don't understand what they are legislating and rely on experts
b) don't appear to have enough respect to refer to these experts as anything other than nerds
I don't care if they are for or against SOPA, that was not my point.
Some people really aren't offended by the term `nerd` or `geek` or even, apparently, `l0ser`.
I don't care that they were calling us nerds, but if someone does care do you really think the congressperson's interests temporarily lining up with theirs really makes any difference?
So yes, it's available to people/organizations with deep pockets (like The Daily Show), but the majority of people take on considerable risk when they try to leverage it.
(my apologies to proud nerds - but my point is that's not how they were using it)
So if people who know what they are doing with computers are the equal of geeks, do politicians think they are the dumb jocks in this high school infantile throwdown?
I'd like to think this problem will be solved when any of them over 60 now will eventually die off but unfortunately they also awarded themselves gold plated heath care.
Ignorance knows no term limits and is somehow rewarded instead.
ETA: added this if anyone wants to discuss OTA further: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3488826
We have a couple of 30-somethings in German government, they "don't get it" (and/or don't want to) either.
So I'd advise against only relying on the "biological solution".
We, as a community, must get more involved in the political process.
"If you watch SC2 on GSL with Tasteless and Artosis"
I haven't the slightest clue what that even means, you nerd.
The last speaker, Jason Chaffetz, who said "maybe we ought to ask some nerds what this really does" was in opposition to SOPA.
Chaffetz has spoken out against SOPA since at least December 7th. See this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQJrNpAcT84 , where he also uses the term "nerds", but he's saying it in opposition to SOPA. And this clip about keeping the internet open, which dates back to 12/7: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4t0Pl83_Apo .
So, yeah, Jon Stewart is funny, but he'll use clips to make his point. This sometimes leaves the viewers with an unfairly tainted view of the person in the clip.
Seriously, though, for a group of people who like to call each other out on standards of conduct, it's pretty appalling that they used a derogatory term to jokingly dismiss their utter lack of expertise in the area.
................ Technical ...... Social
Title ............ Skills ......... Skills
---------- ---------------- ------------
Normie ......... No ............. Yes
Geek ........... Yes ............. Yes
Nerd ............ Yes ............. No
Dork ............ No .............. No
I prefer "nerd".
But I agree about the way that either can be used as positive expression of self-regard, while still coming across as derogatory when used by people who are not in the club and unsympathetic towards those who are.
In this regard, both words differ from 'dork', which never seems to be a good tag.
Language is important.
There was a post on here recently about the communication problem, and it's spot-on. Just like we can't characterize SOPA/PIPA as "the anti-piracy bills," we can not allow ourselves to be demeaned.
SOPA/PIPA are the internet censorship bills. They are the defeating due process bills.
We are experts. We are architects and engineers of the technical infrastructure.
Call yourself what you want but realize that, in the greater world, these terms serve only strip you of authority. That's unacceptable.
One way as to just use the mobile version of the site: en.m.wikipedia...
I refuse to use region specific links like that. Sure the two are separate channels but breaking up the world into specific regions just segregates the Internet into castes of countries. There's no reason I a Canadian shouldn't be able to click that link and view Comedy Central a website on the world wide web.
That's why I said it is funny - usually these websites are excluding everything but the US with maybe Germany and UK added later. However in this instance I think they've got a black list - as in, allow everyone except these countries, like Ireland (allow all versus disallow all + exceptions).
EDIT: mis-credited the link
This whole SOPA thing - or variations thereof - will only be small hiccup in the grand scheme of things. The advancement of technology and its ensuing freedom will trump any current setbacks. When the older generations move on and those who have grown up with the power of technology at their fingertips are in power, who have relatively open minds and understand the freedoms that technology provides, I think we'll really see some accelerated progression in both tech and overall quality of life for everyone.
We should definitely continue to try to pave the way for future generations and reduce these setbacks, but I believe the fact still remains that freedom through technology is inevitable. It may take another couple of centuries of dealing with ignorant politicians, general closed-mindedness, and corporation unwillingness to innovate and change with the times... but we'll get there. I just wish we could live to see it.
I'm afraid future generations won't appreciate it like we would.
I'd like this to happen, but this seems to me very similiar to each past generation idee fix.
First christians in Rome in first century thought when everybody will convert, there would be obviously no sins, and it will be almost haeven on earth. They were right with conversion dynamic, but wrong with the social implications.
The same for revolutionists, romantic nationalists, liberals, communists, hippies, and now it's our turn. Every time the change happened, but the consequences were not exactly as bright, as young idealists predicted.
I'd put my money on this time being exactly the same.
But which ones - the tech nerds or the legal nerds?
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."
The trouble is that even a law made by an idiot is valid.
But I don't necessarily disagree with you.
I'm constantly torn between believing that we're really living in novel times, and the cliche that "the more things change, the more they stay the same". That is, three hundred years ago, there were a lot of ignorant, illiterate, and quite possibly just plain dumb people. The writings that survive from that period and that we're most exposed to today tend to be from the most educated folks, though. So it's easy to get the sense that everyone in 1712 was highly intelligent, had a great grasp of the English language, also knew at least Latin, and probably French, too, and that they always had interesting, novel thoughts. Then when you look around the world today, it's easy to convince yourself that society has really deteriorated.
On the flip side, there really are a lot of ignorant and just plain dumb people today, too. People who say "We're turning into Idiocracy!!!!" recognize this, but they perhaps don't recognize that we used to be Idiocracy too. Perhaps we've always been Idiocracy?
Out in the real world "engineers" are considered the little chap in oily overalls (and a flat cap) who "fixes up the roller dont cha know"
Oh and that's how real engineers are seen in teh UK not some hobby php programmer cobbling together some online shoe shop by cutting and pasting