If you’re constantly watching something grow it’s hard to notice the magnitude while those further away see it immediately. This is well known for parents not seeing how quickly their children are growing but obvious for distant relatives and friends who get a glimpse once every few months.
I have the same relationship with technology. I’m surrounded by it each day that it’s hard to tell how much it’s changed but a way to combat this bias is by traveling, especially to developing countries.
I’m writing this blog post on a Macbook Air that has a ridiculous amount of battery life at the Delhi airport while tethered to a mobile hotspot running off of my US phone. It’s not as fast nor as comfortable as what I get at home or in the office but it’s incredible, especially when compared to my two prior trips, a year ago and four years ago. During last year’s trip I had to buy a cheap Android phone and spent countless hours running around trying to get a working SIM card. This time I didn’t even have change SIM cards due to T-Mobile’s global roaming plan. Four years ago I didn’t even bother doing anything on my phone and had a 3G USB dongle that required it’s own proprietary software to even connect to the internet.
New apps and products launching is just the surface, the biggest changes are happening to infrastructures that make these experiences possible. These aren’t visible day to day but are unmistakable when seen year to year and traveling makes them apparent.