10 Years on … how technology has changed my world

By Kate Foy

Yesterday the new solar panels on my roof started generating energy for the first time, joining the smaller hot-water solar system I’ve been using for a couple of years now.  I was fascinated to see the wheel on the old meter spinning backwards for the first time; the energy company will put in a new digital meter next week.  I was out there again this morning a bit after the sun rose, watching the generation increase, and the wheel begin to slow down.  By now, as the sun is getting higher – and it’s winter here in sunny Queensland – the capacity is probably around 75% and rising, and the wheel will start to reverse soon and go faster.

I’m trying, along with millions of others, to do something locally about the world’s ravenous appetite for electricity.  The solar guy told me that the average household here consumes the equivalent each day of half a wheelie bin of coal.  Wheelie bin is local for those large, plastic garbage bins we place on our footpaths each week for collectors.  Half a wheelie bin per household per day!  That brought it home to me.

So, I’m getting a kick not only from knowing I’m helping out in my small way, or that I’ll get a rebate of 50c per KW of energy produced once I’m generating more than I use, but also that we now have the technology to harness my home to our star.  I still say ‘Gosh’ a lot, so you may understand that I have an imagination that at times gets the better of me – hence the italics. However, my imagination then spun off into thinking about what’s changed in my little world as a result of technology in the past 10 or so years.  It’s extraordinary really.

There have to be dozens of individual changes, but for me this is what springs to mind about the past 10 or so years:

  • I do all my  banking and bill-paying on line – I haven’t had a cheque book for yonks.  In fact, I use less paper than ever before, come to think of it.
  • I have captured more images (I used to say ‘take photos’), shared them round, and enjoyed them faster than ever before.  I’ve had a camera since I was 10 years old.
  • I undertook a more intensive, more rewarding period of professional development, met more colleagues, and learned more new skills than I can recall from other times in my life – and I continue to do so.
  • I feel more connected with the rest of the world, and have met and communicate with more people living in my country and beyond than at any other period in my life.
  • I’ve learned to appreciate and imagine the infinite possibilities of the word digital for me and for the rest of the world, and put some of this to work.
  • I’m writing more, thinking more, communicating more and have access to more information as well as music and books than at any other time in my life.  This doesn’t faze me or overwhelm me; it actually excites me.

I still love using a fountain pen, reading (and smelling and enjoying the touch of) real books, drawing on paper and puddling around with watercolours, spending hours face to face with friends – some of whom I’ve met online.  And, of course, I love my garden – to put all of this change in perspective, there’s nothing quite like getting your hands really truly dirty in a garden bed and watching the slow turning of the seasons as plants grow and the face of the landscape changes.  I’m retired now from full-time work, and not a day goes by when I’m not thankful for the opportunities I now have to continue engaging with the world ‘out there’ perhaps even more fully than in the past.  What a wonderful world it is!

By the way, if you haven’t already seen it, check out the updated video of Shift Happens about how change will accelerate in the near future.  It’s a terrific, short little presentation that makes its point well.