Publisher’s Perspective
Publisher’s Perspective
Publisher’s Perspective
Progress—it’s such an ironic concept. The thought of it excites the imagination in anticipation of positive change, while the effort of its pursuit and its demanding and unpredictable nature induces fatigue, uncertainty, and even fear.

Imagine it’s the early 1900s. Two cowboys on horseback are riding a dusty, well-traveled trail on the outskirts of town when they hear a strange noise approaching from behind. Glancing over their shoulders, they see for the first time an automobile. Consider the conversation that follows as the vehicle passes: the excitement, the curiosity, and the stories of the experience they share with their family and friends that evening.

Now consider that these two men were each business owners, one the maker of wagons and the other of saddles. Little did they comprehend that day how the arrival of this exciting new machine would, in the years ahead, disrupt their livelihood and their lives. It is likely that the town officials and planners that saw their first automobile were equally naïve as to the impact this new form of transportation would have on their world. Unaware that in the not-too-distant future they would be debating the need for stop signs, parking lots, and traffic laws and discussing how these would impact the local community and its businesses.

The fact is major innovation often drives profound change far beyond what most can imagine when it is first introduced. This is because the new and the innovative excite the imagination, while only its implementation and use reveals the true depth and breadth of its impact.

It has been said, history does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Today, our experience is very much in rhythm with this observation. In the early 1970s, consumers marveled at the capabilities of the first handheld calculators or listened to their newly purchased transistor radio. Few would comprehend how a small piece of new technology inside, the microprocessor, would eventually inhabit everything, not only the automobile, which is where this story started, but also their electric toothbrush, their e-bike, and their nation’s most advanced weaponry, transforming their livelihood and their lives in the decades to come.

Like the cowboys, our initial enthusiasm for technical innovation and the possibilities it represented is now colliding with the reality of its impact. However, there is one major difference with our experience: the scale and speed of the disruption. Initially, the introduction of the automobile primarily impacted the transportation industry and its associated infrastructure, while the introduction of the microprocessor and its resulting byproducts have impacted every industry and every aspect of daily life. Our world is forever changed. Just as the introduction of the automobile impacted previous generations, forcing them to adjust and adapt, we are being required to do the same.

As Zeta Yarwood stated in her October 2022 STRIVE article, “Learning from Loss”: “You can’t make progress until you’re brutally honest about where you’re starting from.” After years of effort in the pursuit of technical innovation, I think it’s accurate to say we are all highly disrupted, feeling uncertain, and perhaps a bit fearful about the future that has yet to come into focus. The brutal truth is the microprocessor and all that it enables has put us in the fast lane. The challenge before us now is to define the rules of the road.

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Rick Thomas
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