Throughout history, human beings have been making changes in order to overcome challenges and improve lives. The use of fire for cooking is one ancient example still in use today.
The digital revolution is the latest of the most significant and large scale changes. They include the first industrial revolution (1784), the technical or second industrial revolution (1870), and the information and telecommunications or the third industrial revolution (1969), also known as the digital revolution. The trend goes on with increasing speed.
Specifically, the digital revolution refers to the advancement of technology from analog electronic and mechanical devices to the digital computing and automation technologies. We are entering the fourth industrial revolution (2011) enabling mixing and mutual reinforcement among real and virtual systems powered by advanced mobile networking, big data and generative AI (artificial intelligence) systems.
While these big advances brought great benefits, they also caused many changes in people’s lives. Such changes require new understanding, new skills, new training, new ways of conducting business or even daily living. But, most importantly, they require new ways of thinking. No wonder keeping pace with the times has always been a great concern for people.
This Computational Thinking (CT) blog focuses on keeping pace in the digital age.
Individuals of all ages, professionals, students, and businesses should be concerned with keeping up with the digital age. It’s a relevant topic for anyone who interacts with technology and the digital world.
Even digital natives, people who grew up in the digital era and took the technologies for granted, need to keep up, because being used to them is not a substitute for understanding or becoming proficient with them.
In short, almost everyone can benefit from keeping up with the digital times.
Automobiles replaced horse-drawn carriages. Is it important to learn how to drive?
As digital technologies change almost every aspect of our lives, is it important to keep pace?
Still, let’s give some specific reasons:
What specific challenges?
Keeping pace can help us deal with significant challenges presented by the digital age:
These issues highlight the multifaceted nature of keeping up with the digital age, encompassing technology, communication, security, privacy, and societal implications. Staying informed and proactive in addressing these challenges is essential for individuals and organizations in the digital era.
It is crucial to start as soon as possible, especially in today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. Starting early helps individuals develop digital literacy skills that are essential in education, careers, and daily living. Each step taken makes it easier and more enjoyable to move forward.
We are not getting any younger. Every day we put off doing at least something to keep up, we are just going to be left further and further behind.
How can we keep up with the digital age effectively? We can read online articles and tutorials on relevant topics, subscribe to technology news and blogs, participate in digital literacy programs, engage in lifelong learning and skill development, practice safe and responsible online behavior, stay curious and open to new technologies and trends.
Here’s a priority list of specific topics with which to get started.These topics provide a foundational understanding of key aspects of the digital world:
Pick a few from these foundational topics to get started. Perhaps choose one or two related to immediate and practical use such as ordering online, email, texting, smartphone and smart TV, Internet service providers (ISP), home WIFI and networking.
As you become more comfortable and knowledgeable, you can explore more areas of interest. If you get started, you’ll catch up in time. Remember that the digital age is constantly evolving, so continuous learning and adaptation are essential for staying current, while inaction can leave you farther behind.
Resources for keeping up with the digital age are widely available online and offline. These resources include video courses, educational websites, libraries, technology workshops, and digital literacy programs in schools and communities.
To get started in a hurry, I’d recommend my new book “Becoming a Computational Thinker: Success in the Digital Age” that was published in January 2024. It is a wonderful tool for people of all ages to get started. Here is the book’s website: computize.org/CTer.
The book contains 30 articles. No prior digital literacy is required. Each article is illustrated with plenty of pictures and drawings to make it easy to read. The contents are down to earth, easily relatable to folks in all walks of life and to their daily lives. Article-end crossword puzzles add fun for readers.
By starting with this book, you not only can keep up but also gain a new way of thinking, namely Computational Thinking, useful everyday, everywhere.
Keeping pace with changes, big and small, is a constant concern for all people. When big changes such as the industrial revolutions happen the challenges become significant. People need new skills, new knowledge, new training, new way of doing things and new ways of thinking.
Keeping pace is a constant struggle least one gets left further behind. But we also need to pace ourselves and choose the important areas where our efforts will pay the most dividends. It is true that no one can know and do everything. As long as we keep learning new and useful things, that is all we can do.
A Ph.D. and faculty member from MIT, Paul Wang (王 士 弘) became a Computer Science professor (Kent State University) in 1981, and served as a Director at the Institute for Computational Mathematics at Kent from 1986 to 2011. He retired in 2012 and is now professor emeritus at Kent State University.
Paul is a leading expert in Symbolic and Algebraic Computation (SAC). He has conducted over forty research projects funded by government and industry, authored many well-regarded Computer Science textbooks, most also translated into foreign languages, and released many software tools. He received the Ohio Governor's Award for University Faculty Entrepreneurship (2001). Paul supervised 14 Ph.D. and over 26 Master-degree students.
His Ph.D. dissertation, advised by Joel Moses, was on Evaluation of Definite Integrals by Symbolic Manipulation. Paul's main research interests include Symbolic and Algebraic Computation (SAC), polynomial factoring and GCD algorithms, automatic code generation, Internet Accessible Mathematical Computation (IAMC), enabling technologies for and classroom delivery of Web-based Mathematics Education (WME), as well as parallel and distributed SAC. Paul has made significant contributions to many parts of the MAXIMA computer algebra system. See these online demos for an experience with MAXIMA.
Paul continues to work jointly with others nationally and internationally in computer science teaching and research, write textbooks, IT consult as sofpower.com, and manage his Web development business webtong.com