HomeHow technology will change us after the COVID-19 pandemic is overTechHow technology will change us after the COVID-19 pandemic is over

How technology will change us after the COVID-19 pandemic is over

Long before, schools were closed, employees ordered to work from home and the internet strained under the weight of Netflix binge-watching, connected technology was changing the modern world.

How fast those changes came depended on which part of our society was being disrupted. For those who worked in now-decimated shopping malls, it came all too quickly. But those hoping that all the resources of prestigious universities such as Rice would be available with the click of a mouse were disappointed.

Now, by avoiding a virus for which humanity has no natural immunity, these changes are accelerating. The internet has become a critical factor in coping with the coronavirus pandemic. And when this is over — whenever that might be — we will come out of this changed, more reliant that ever on being connected.

On HoustonChronicle.com: Internet providers have temporarily lifted data caps. Let’s make it permanent

Just over a century ago, a much less connected world underwent similar pandemic and also emerged from it changed. The Spanish flu of 1918 infected 500 million people, killed 50 million and confined people to their homes,

It had a profound effect on medicine, and particularly the study and treatment of viruses, which were known, but not well understood. At the time, most scientists believed the flu was caused by bacteria, said Laura F. Spinney, the author of “Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed The World.”

“When Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin,” she said, “ he did it because he was trying to grow what he thought was the bacteria that caused the Spanish flu.”

The devastation of the flu gave rise to socialized medicine systems in Europe, as well as the insurance-based system in the United States, Spinney said. There also was a backlash against science, she added, which was perceived to have failed, inspiring a back-to-nature movement that still exists today.

The coronavirus pandemic is already considered the story of this generation, and it will have lasting impact. Many of those changes involve connected technology. I’m going to focus on three areas — work, education and entertainment — that I think will be changed significantly by the pandemic.


Walk into any Houston office building and chances are its floors are not the busy, bustling workplaces they were before mid-March, when businesses got serious about COVID-19 and sent employees home. On March 24, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Mayor Sylvester Turner issued an order for residents to stay at home.

That’s why, on any given day, there’s a line outside the Houston MicroCenter store as people upgrade computers and add second monitors to their home-office setups.

Houston’s businesses have moved into apartments, townhouses, high-rises and suburban McMansions. Many of their workers are learning new tools and new ways of getting their jobs done. Dining tables are being retrofitted as workspaces, stacks of boxes and books take the place of standing desks.

While no firm statistics are available on how many people are now working from home, internet traffic suggests it’s a lot. Comcast said last week that peak traffic on its network is shifting to earlier in the day, and upload traffic — in which people send rather than receive data, an indicator of work — is up 27 percent.

Although working from home has been a way of life for some knowledge workers since the first modem was plugged into a phone line, a new wave of employees is finding it a better way to work. And control-freak managers and tradition-bound executives are learning it’s not the productivity apolocalypse they feared.

VIRTUAL WORDPRESS: Matt Mullenweg’s distributed company is everywhere

“People are going to reexamine the defaults and the things they took for granted before this happened,” said Matt Mullenweg, the founder of Automattic, the company behind the blogging platform WordPress. Mullenweg wrote the first version of WordPress in Houston while a student at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

Mullenweg has become one of the premier advocates for distributed work, in which employees are allowed to work wherever they are. His company has never had a physical headquarters, though employees get together once a year.

As someone who believes every company should try distributed work, you’d think Mullenweg might be delighted with more employee working at home. But no.

In a post on his Unlucky in Cards blog, Mullenweg wrote: “This is not how I envisioned the distributed work revolution taking hold.

“These are abnormal times, people are struggling to work from home, and it’s not the normal situation. There are kids at home, and there are child care issues. We are worried about our loved ones. Even when you work from home, the best practice is to get out and socialize. This is the opposite of that.”

That said, Mullenweg believes this is a turning point for distributed work. Once workers get a taste of it and managers see that, yes, work-from-home employees are often more productive, it will be come the newer normal.

“I don’t think it will ever go back to the way it was,” Mullenweg said.


When Rice University suspended classes in early March after a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus, three for-credit courses were available online. When Rice’s classes restarted on March 23, 1,906 online courses were offered, said Klara Jelinkova, the university’s chief information officer.

Setting all this up – including training 487 professors, many of whom had never taught online before – was “simultaneously exhilirating and scary,” Jelinkova said.

Online education has been around for a while, and some universities are built entirely on it. But many colleges — and particularly K-12 schools — have not embraced it.

At the Houston Independent School District, online learning just started last week, with many teachers trying to master online teaching tools and then providing tech support to parents and students unfamiliar with the technology.

Howard Rheingold, a Silicon Valley fixture who has championed online education since the pre-internet days of computer bulletin boards and discussion forums, sees the emergency shift to distance education as an opportunity to rethink the teaching process.

CONNECTED LEARNING: How one school district is moving its classes online

“As many are discovering, it is not about mastering the technology, it’s about, ‘How do you teach?’” said Rheingold, who at one point offered a series of courses in online culture and literacy through his Rheingold U. “You have to teach both in the classroom and online.”

Distance learning is not “the end of the university,” he said, but it will become more integrated into learning. He gave YouTube as an example, where almost any skill can be picked up by watching videos.

“Fourteen-year-olds knows how to learn online,” Rheingold said. “They use YouTube to learn how to play a ukelele, hook up a satellite dish, configure a web server. It is a free or inexpensive way to teach.”

Rice’s Jelinkova said the internet is good at teaching skills, but distance learning doesn’t offer the complete experience found on a college campus.

“If universities were only in the business of delivering education, that would be one thing,” she said. “We are in the business of helping people grow, and to be employed. That takes all the social aspects of college. It’s hard to do that just online.”

But she says coronavirus crisis will change Rice and other schools.

“We will put more classes online,” she said. “It will be different.”


In mid-March, as audiences avoided movie theaters and cities began closing them, NBCUniversal announced it would do the previously unthinkable – send first-run films directly to streaming services. “The Hunt,” “Emma” and “The Invisible Man”, which had spent a little time in theaters, were moved to pay-to-view platforms such as Amazon Prime and Apple’s iTunes.

The price to watch: $20, less than the cost of two theater tickets in larger markets.

One highly anticipated title was set to debut on those services. “Trolls World Tour” will be available starting April 10. It will also screen in a few theaters that remain open.

In the world of motion picture distribution, this is known as “breaking the theatrical window,” the time that movies are shown only in theaters before moving to rental and streaming. Prior to the pandemic, the window already had cracks, inflicted primarily by Netflix, which showed critically acclaimed films such as 2018’s “Roma” and last year’s “The Irishman” only briefly in theaters before streaming them.

With the advent of large-screen, high-definition TVs and streaming services in ultra-high resolution formats, people were already eschewing theaters for their own couches.

Release Notes: Get Dwight Silverman’s weekly tech newsletter in your inbox

Social distancing has accelerated that trend. The spate of stay-at-home orders inspired Americans to sign up for streaming services in record numbers, according to Antenna, a streaming analytics research firm. Sign-ups for Disney Plus tripled in one week in March; HBO’s nearly doubled.

It’s not just movies and TV. The coronavirus has closed concert venues, clubs and bars, robbing musicians of places to perform. Many have taken to online performances.

Kam Franklin, the singer for Houston’s Gulf Coast soul band The Suffers, said the band canceled a tour and work on a new album. The group gathered in her living room one Saturday evening in mid-March and performed via Facebook Live, directing fans to PayPal and Venmo accounts to “tip” the band.

The band earned as much as it would playing a moderately sized club, Franklin said. As social distancing became a bigger issue, and band members were unable to maintain six-foot-buffers in her living room, Franklin launched a series of solo performances from her bedroom on Saturday nights.

She says the band now plans to make online shows a regular part of its routine.

“I defnitely see it as a viable form of income for us,” she said. “It will definitely change our business, if we are capable of doing this consistently.”

Traditionally, entertainment involved a location with other people. That will resume once the pandemic subsides, but it will never return to way it was, says Jeff Bock, senior media analyst for Exhibitor Relations, a company that tracks the movie theater industry. People are apt to be cautious about interacting with others, and connected technology will make it so they don’t have to.

“The whole business model of movie theaters is packing people in and seating them a foot apart from each other,” Bock said. “Are people going to want to go back to doing that? I don’t think so.”




Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

payday smile logo

PaydaySmile.com is a financial technology company specializing in payday loans and financial solutions. With a keen focus on catering to payday lending needs, the company provides tailored loan options and tools to assist individuals seeking short-term financial assistance. It’s important to note that while we offer financial tools and resources, we are not a direct lender.

Advertiser Disclosure: This website is an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This website does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace. This website may use other proprietary factors to impact card offer listings on the website such as consumer selection or the likelihood of the applicant’s credit approval.

© 2024 PaydaySmile.com . All Rights Reserved.