The Technology Monster

Sometimes a caption just is not necessary! (Photo by Bruce Sallan)

Sometimes, I just wish it would stop.  The “Technology Monster” won’t stop following me!  I recently visited Southeast Asia and found this monster everywhere. It didn’t matter if it was the high-living, modern, extra-ordinary city of Hong Kong or the severe poverty of Cambodia and Borneo!

The high-rises of Hong Kong had laser murals on their faces, lit up every night.  Some streets resembled the futuristic image of “Blade Runner*,” with every possible public surface having video screens and advertisements in almost psychedelically bright and moving colors.

The malls, both above and under-ground were assaults on the senses with video screens everywhere and technology for sale in almost every store.

I was on vacation.  I wanted to be left alone!  But, the allure of all these visuals in Hong Kong was almost intoxicating.  The Technology Monster was following me and wanted to grab me, take my money, and then force me to learn yet another new device I really didn’t even think I wanted or needed.

In contrast, the poverty of Cambodia, Malaysia, and much of Vietnam was humbling and sobering in its pervasiveness.  The Technology Monster was aggressively present in Saigon (aka Ho Chi Minh City) from the amazing high-rise in the middle of the city, with its protruding heli-pad 50 or so stories in the air, to even the outskirts of Vietnam which were strewn with shacks and undeniable poverty.

The heli-pad is wild to view - notice the communist flag! (Photo by Bruce Sallan)

But, they had cell-phones.  As these photos show, the ramshackliest building often had advertisements for cell-phones adorning its corrugated sheet metal structure.

These ads were everywhere! (Photo by Bruce Sallan)

Literally everywhere! (Photo by Bruce Sallan)

Given the income level, the majority of travel was on small motorcycles and motor scooters.  Up to four human beings would ride these 50cc to maybe a whopping 90cc 2-wheeled vehicles — their law allows two adults and two kids — but they all seemed to have cell-phones!

(Photo by Bruce Sallan)

On a previous trip to Morocco, I was even more struck by the image of their “white flowers” throughout the dense and incredibly crowded and oddly beautiful city of Fez.  On a hill overlooking this vast maze of homes and businesses, you would see hundreds, if not thousands, of their “white flowers.”  What are they? Satellite dishes.  Most had rust around their edges, some more so than others.

I just love this photo - the density was intense! (Photo by Bruce Sallan)

When I look at this photo of the rooftops of Fez, it almost looks like a graphic image/design one might see in choices of wallpaper.  Just as laundry is hung out to dry everywhere throughout Southeast Asia and Northern African, so too are the “white flowers” of these satellite dishes ubiquitous.  In Thailand, they were “red flowers.”

White "Flowers" in Fez, Red ones in Bangkok (Photo by Bruce Sallan)

Now, granted, I have graduated from tech boob to tech website co-creator and maybe even become a bit tech savvy.  But, I retain my reluctance and frustration with the pace of change imposed on us consumers.  Yet, The Technology Monster cannot be stopped.  And, resisting it is frankly foolish at this point, especially if you have children.

What is my point, you wisely ask? Simply that if you can’t beat ‘em, you might as well join ‘em.  Too many of us boomers resist learning new technology, myself included, and it’s just like our parents resisting learning to use the first video-tape recorders, cable television, and cell-phones.

Take the plunge, buy that new tech thing, and learn how to use it. Boomer Tech Talk reviews include recent tech gizmos that you might like for yourself or you parents.

And, don’t diss Twitter when you may not even understand it.  Same with Facebook, which I assert in my parenting-writer role is an essential thing to be part of if you have children on Facebook.

And, that my dear readers, is much the reason we created Boomer Tech Talk.

The OLD and the NEW - love the contrast. (Photo by Bruce Sallan)

* The Director’s Cut Edition of “Blade Runner” is an astonishingly gorgeous and terrific movie – this opinion comes from my quarter century former career in showbiz, and a lifelong love of movies.

  • John Connor

    Looks like technology has taken over the world! Hopefully the machines don’t take control… then we’re looking at the judgement day. the rise of the machines

    • Bruce Sallan

      Well, John Connor, I hope we don’t have “Judgment Day!”

  • SteveBHarrington

    This was such a fun article. Quite a nice addition to your site’s repertoire. Love the photos. And, I think your basic point is quite interesting. Technology really is everywhere. It is inescapable – and the notion of calling it “The Technology Monster” deserves to enter our collective lexicon!

    • Bruce Sallan

      I wonder if I’d get credit if “The Technology Monster” did become a colloquial saying? Thx for the comment Steve!

  • Robert Capa

    Those are OUTSTANDING photos! You honed your eye for composition, color and content during your years in showbiz! I also liked your reflections on technology.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thanks Mr. Capa. Coming from “You” that really means a great deal. Do you know that I have four of your prints on my wall including your 2nd most famous photograph – “Omaha Beach?” Things have changed just a bit in the world of photography since you were taking pix during World War II and the Spanish Civil War (among so many others you took!)…

  • CuteMonster

    Let me preface by stating I love tech gadgets, science, etc. Yet at times I get this inescapable gnawing feeling that the rapid growth of technology will inevitably overshadow the human experience. To date technology has been integrated into out daily lives. Still, with artificial intelligence tech coming into its own in the 21st century, the paradigm may be shifting in ways we can barely fathom.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Well said CM! At least we’re not bored…

  • Horace

    The Technology Monster is a great way of putting it. I do feel as if IT is sometimes taking over our lives. As a parent, I find it endlessly frustrating always being behind my kids!

    • Bruce Sallan

      I feel the same Horace (vis-a-vis) the kids. That is why our “It’s a Tech World After All” comix tend to resonate with so many parents! But, I AM NOT THAT DAD!

  • Anonymous

    Awesome article and photos, Bruce. (Did you know I used to sell wholesale tour packages to Asia on Singapore Airlines? I’ve even worked in Hong Kong for several months as a hotel management intern..) Technology is moving at ever-increasing exponential rates and it’s so exciting! Have you guys been watching the exciting things happening with Augmented Reality? Things like Layar or Daqri are bringing bar-codes into 3d life! Still though, I look up in the sky whenever I see a plane and every so often I will reflect upon the wonder. Huh? What? They got that heavy, metal solid thing up in the air? How is that thing flying!?

    And I’m from a slightly younger generation that is still old enough to remember things like the Dewey Decimal system at the library or renting videos from the local video store. (ha, not to mention that travel agents have pretty much disappeared in this age of booking tickets online)

    • Bruce Sallan

      That is cool Garick! No I didn’t know about your background doing that. I also don’t know anything about “Augmented Reality” but it doesn’t sound good! A little “Blade Runner” action? Ugh. Do tell (more)?

    • Anonymous

      I have followed the development of augmented reality and services like Layar are the first step towards implementing this process in today’s world. We’ve seen sci-fi versions of this where everywhere you look you see a graphic “overlay” of ads or other info that apparently is projected directly onto your retina… The interim step has been the “heads-up” displays on aircraft and some luxury autos that projected information onto the windshield.

      The biggest advance by systems like Layar is that a) it’s accessible to anyone with a new iPhone or Android smart phone, and b) it can be customized to present the information you want to see or find. The next step may be projecting the information on goggles or glasses so you can keep your hands free.

      Of course, tthe ultimate (inevitable?) step is the realization of the sci-fi model of actually seeing info projected onto your eyes via signals generated by the objects and buildings you pass by. Blade Runner indeed!

  • firstSTREET

    Great post! Many great points about technology, but especially your notion about the unnecessary things versus those which you might actually benefit from. Obviously this can be a fine line, but I agree with you that the only way to really find out about it is to dive right in. Nice photos too!

    • Bruce Sallan

      If Madison Avenue had their way, we’d HAVE to get it all! Glad you hit on that point firstSTREET and thanks for the comment.

  • Bill

    I don’t completely agree. Just because the majority is doing it doesn’t make it the right direction to go/follow. Hasn’t history taught us anything? And we all work very hard for what we earn in an effort to put food on the table, cloths on our bodies, fuel in our transportation vehicles (and the price keeps going up). The basic for this lifestyle in the west.
    We are consuming ourselves into oblivion. We, the human race, were created for greater things than consuming/producing. Just look at the value God places on us in all the great religions writings. It’s time we lived up to our greatness, not mediocrity. Technology is a small, small part of that, VERY, VERY, VERY small.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Bill, I’m not sure where we disagree? You basically raise a different point that there is and should be more to life than technology – that “our purpose” on this planet may be more divinely inspired than what Apple is putting out at any given moment!

  • Sjacquard

    Great photos. I think the Technology Monster has gotten me and I can’t escape!

    • Bruce Sallan

      I really hope so, I really hope so!

  • Nicholas Sack

    [Smartitude Alert] Looks like their cell phone businesses need more advertising.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Funny Nicholas!

  • Sandy

    Everybody in Asia seems to read English, judging by the billboards in English which Bruce has photographed. As to the white flower or red flower in Morocco and Thailand, the interesting question is what is being broadcast to all these people? What a tremendous opportunity for political propaganda and brainwashing!

    • Bruce Sallan

      You are so right, Sandy. In Vietnam, the “government” blocked Facebook and it’s not available online there!

  • Michele

    Really terrific photos Bruce. Good points, too. Amazing that food can be an issue but having a cell-phone isn’t!

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thanks so much Michele. Ray is BoomerTechTalk’s resident photographer, but I try. I don’t think they’re foregoing food, but somehow they all have these pay as you go plans so they have phones as long as they can pay for them I guess?

  • Sally

    Love your photos Bruce. Second career?

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thanks Sally but I leave the pro stuff to my BTT partner @RayJGordon!