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'Future shock?' We ain't got no steenking future shock: we've come a long way in almost 40 years. Not only do we expect change, we demand it.

Back in the 1970s, Alvin Toffler, a futurist--whatever that is--wrote a book entitled Future Shock. It was about how change, both technologically and culturally, was happening so fast that people were being shocked by not only the changes, but the rate of change as well. He described it as "too much change in too short a period of time."

Consider: a 1970 Ford Maverick in its most basic incarnation had a six-cylinder engine. Open the hood and not only was everything in there plain to see--carburetor, distributor, radiator, alternator, and all of the other parts--but there was almost enough room inside the engine compartment to climb in and stand by the engine while working on it.

Open the hood of a 2009 Ford--take your pick of any Flavor--and it looks like you'd need Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery Scott, chief engineer of the starship Enterprise, to pull "simple" maintenance. In fact, anything that the normal consumer is supposed to touch is highlighted in a bright color. Not only showing us where to add oil or window washer fluid, but implicitly tell us not to touch anything else.

The "Aunt Tillie" Factor

But, even as high-tech as cars have become in those 39 years, it hasn't stopped Aunt Tillie from driving one, usually 10 miles below the speed limit in the left lane of the interstate.

Like the rest of us, Aunt Tillie has become inured to future shock. If technological and social change were so upsetting, then most of us would be in a coma because of the advances in communications options. Instead, grade-schoolers now have cell phones and a large number of us--more than should be--hang on to the latest Twitter from someone who has become famous [read "notorious"] for being famous.

The same is true for the metalworking business. Take a look at our run of "The Bull of the Woods" cartoons. These date back to the 1930s and '40s. But, a machinist from a hundred years before that could walk into a shop like those portrayed and start working in about 15 minutes. Some of the machines changed a little, but not enough to shock the time-traveler. Not so today. Even a shop worker from 1970, if brought into a modern shop, would look at some of the advanced machines on the floor and have no idea of how to run them.

But, we've become inoculated against that type of shock. In fact, we not only expect it, but demand it. Who goes to IMTS and doesn't expect to see a major advance in some field? There may be some "Wow!" factor involved, but no one would be so shocked as to be stymied by an advance.

Too Much for Granted

In fact, advances have become somewhat mundane. We not only take them for granted, but sometimes overlook all of their possibilities. That's where Jay Pierson offers his help. Jay begins a column in this month's MAN where he points out where current, advanced technologies outside the shop floor can assist in making a shop more efficient and more profitable.

For instance, his debut column talks about how to establish a shop's presence on the web. In the future, he'll tackle other topics, without shock.

Sadly, however, Jay takes the place of Dave Sterling and his "From the Shop Floor," column. Dave had been a contributing columnist for about two years, but found that with the demands that our current economic situation placed on him and his shop, that he could no longer afford the time it took to write his monthly contribution. We'll miss Dave and his insights.

But, this is a chance to turn lemons into a refreshing beverage--some may prefer lemonade, but I like a brewed drink with some hops and barley in it. I'm sure there are a ton of stories out there that you readers would like to share about a problem you've solved. If you can put together about 700 words explaining your dilemma and how you fixed it, I'd love to see it, and perhaps, publish it. Send it to me at

Pete Nofel

Modern Applications News
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Title Annotation:EDITOR'S CORNER
Author:Nofel, Pete
Publication:Modern Applications News
Date:May 1, 2009
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