Tuesday, June 3, 2003

When will IT become just another competency like reading and writing?

Once upon a time it was uncommon to be able to read and write. Those trained were either members of a noble class, servants of a noble class, or members of a religious cult like friars, brothers, monks and priests. Arrival of the printed word encouraged the dissemination of the written word. Reading became much more common.

Last month, the National Research Council (as it calls itself, forgetting for a moment that it's the US National Research Council, not the Bolivian one...) published a report called "Beyond Creativity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity". It is a report that reflects its inception during the high-tech boom. It does not question whether IT will go the way of reading and writing, and just become another competency of the educated. Instead, it holds it out as unique unto itself exempt from pedestrian analysis like productivity.

The world has moved past IT as a destination. The battle for digitization has been won. We're just starting the generations long effort to assimilate it into everyday life. Tracking its absorption will be just like tracking the daily use of dental floss -- interesting to the expert, surely with long-term consequences, but pretty inconsequential right this minute.