Looking at Old School Technology for Inspiration

Looking at Old School Technology for Inspiration

How old school? How about 3,000 years old. While working on a housing project in Labrador, workers uncovered tools, weapons, and other artifacts from a period where we don’t really know terribly much about how people lived. First, you’re wondering how this guy knows this. My undergrad degree is in Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology and Quaternary Geology (that’s the geology of the last 1.5 million years to the present) and my Masters degree is in paleoecology (past environments) and global climate change. Yes, the “so why are you writing tech stuff” is a question I’m asked a lot. Regardless, the second question you might be wondering (or should be wondering) is how this relates to technology now. Well that’s easy:

Inspiration and innovation.

Here’s an artifact from my own collection (I found it some backfill so it has little archaeological value):

Artifact from my personal collection, SD card for scale.

My sense is that it’s an axe or scraper from a period about (guessing) the same time as the ones in Labrador (maybe earlier). Now look at this another way, these artifacts started as rocks. Just a hunk of stone. Nothing. Then someone got an idea. What if it were sharper on one part? Maybe if it were shaped differently we could hold it better? Maybe if we used this rock (e.g. Flint or chert) instead of that rock (say, sandstone) the tool might work better? And this, friends and readers, is how technology still works. We see a problem and then someone finds a solution.

This is the challenge we all need to keep in mind. Is something not working? Can it work better? Do you have a great idea for how to fix it? We might not be bashing rocks together to make tools, but we certainly have a ton of tools to attack more and more challenges that we now. Looking at current technological landscape Canada, there is a lot going on and some really interesting developments (beyond the ever-present RIM). This is the mandate of The Next Web Canada: highlight the great stuff, challenge our ways of working and thinking.

It’s going to be a great ride.

Thumbnail photo credit: CBC

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