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Contrary to popular belief, online technology is not mature. It’s huge, yes, but not mature. In fact, online tech resembles other nascent industries from the late 19th century. Statistics and medicine particularly stand out. That may seem like a stretch. However, widespread adaptation of the “new” is all too similar.
U.S. medicine struggled to gain legitimacy throughout the 19th century. It attracted failures of every stripe – predominantly good ol’ boys too socially inept for law or finance. Its primary attraction? The lack of standardization. There was a lot of money in snake oil. Reform came slow. Self-governing bodies, for instance, only began organizing with the ascent of state-run health departments. The slow adoption of statistics, predominantly mortality rates, also spearheaded its evolution.
Dissent was common, of course. Self-interested professionals and bureaucrats dug in their heels and refused to budge. Adaptation was resultantly the equivalent of molasses. The interchange between quacks and fire-starters led to the establishment we know today.
The Quandary of State-endorced Apps
Online tech is at similar precipice. There are two options:
- Adapt and accept
- Ignore and flounder…for a while
New standards are always hard to appropriate. It particularly hits state servants hard. They really do prefer top-down cultural change. There are directives, state interest, and profit. This runs contrary to the rebels that proved themselves right -Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and countless others.
Online tech will not enter a phase of orthodoxy anytime soon. That is its strength. It is also far more humanitarian. The medium employs while producing less junk. It enables and connects. It informs. This is also why paper pushers fear it…but know that it’s only because their own methods are becoming obsolescent.
Social networking will always be multitiered. Graft will always surface. But how much graft, and why? Transparency is the only counteragent. The real question is if the state will appropriate or be appropriated.
This brings us to apps like Uber and Airbnb. They display demand and scarcity -both are the apparent bedrocks that our economy rests upon. Industries like medicine and manufacturing are dependent on periphery innovation. R&D comes from outside sources. These organizations receive massive amounts of state aid but little to no oversight. It’s a Keynesian pump with outdated schematics and an engineer corp trained for guess-and-check.
The gist is that few governmental entities are willing to include newfangled apps -particularly if from the “outside.” It’s far more realistic they’d develop their own. Naturally, that means contracting out. Such proximity comes with its own hazards. State-sponsored apps could compromise the “disruptiveness” these programs offer. Heaven knows the FDA and other entities overlap with the industries they regulate.
Some change, though, some efficacy is better than none. The state has particular incentive to enforce, or at least encourage, greater transparency in medicine, agriculture, and other subsidized industries. When it will pick up the mantle is anyone’s guess.
Picture courtesy of United Soybean Board via Creative Commons