Technology is more than wires and chips

In watching the second Liberal Party Leadership debate today, I was not the only one who noticed that, in response to the comment by Marc Garneau that he hated vacuuming, George Takach suggested that Marc get a Swiffer. The twitterverse lit up with comments, each suggesting that for the “tech candidate” the right response should have been the Roomba. It became kind of a humorous thing.

I wonder if I was the only one who thought that George Takach gave the better answer. He gave the answer that a person who really understands the transformational power of technology must give. Let me explain.

Many people have been trained, especially in the last half century, to associate the word technology with computers. The mental picture of the word includes wires, chips and tubes. It is an easy association to make, as the last half century has seen the computer industry grow and expand like nothing in history. In my own case, I grew up writing my essays longhand. As I got older, I started typing them, equipped with an emerging technology which has now all but disappeared, Liquid Paper. My first typewriter was purely mechanical, My last was an IBM Selectric, which had its time at the pinnacle of office technology. And for the Selectric, Liquid Paper morphed into new options, including an erase key right on the keyboard.

We forget sometimes that technology is advancement, not just in computer power but across the spectrum of tools with which we interact daily. Good ideas emerge daily and the best ideas become a part of our daily life. In my life, my longhand essays were supplanted first by typed versions with carbons, then by pages printed on a dot matrix printer attached to my Apple computer and now to the Internet via a notebook computer which lets me tote more computer power under my arm than existed 50 years ago.

I liked George’s Swiffer comment. The Swiffer is a great advancement in daily use technology for Canadians. The Roomba is cool, a little vacuum robot that scampers about avoiding obstacles.But the Swiffer is a real home cleaning technological advancement, virtually replacing the straw broom so many of us knew. It improves cleaning coverage, making it easier to clean not just floors but walls and ceiling. It addresses the aging of a population, easing the work for we whose 30’s and 40’s are behind us.

A very smart man once told me that, in speaking about technology, there are three types of people. The first two are Users and Creators. The third is a much smaller group, who understand the power of technological advancement and its potential impact on the community, the country and the world. It is these visionaries who harness the power of disparate resources and technologies and are in a great way responsible for the products and ideas we take for granted today. This same smart man said that, in this very small group, we find George Takach.

George recognizes that advancement and technology is more than just wires and chips. Advancement and technology is the result of an innovative state of mind. Innovation can improve more than our phones and computers. It can improve our daily lives, our political world and give us a positive view of the future. The Swiffer, while devoid of a computer, is a great example of advancement.

I was glad to head one candidate who understands there is more to advancement than the next smartphone. At least one knows that the power of innovation is so much broader and deeper. Good on George Takach.