[Viewpoint] Ready for the ‘Next Big Thing’?

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[Viewpoint] Ready for the ‘Next Big Thing’?

‘Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?” Call me philosophical for citing the title of a painting by French artist Paul Gauguin to start a dialogue about the future of Korean IT.

Many are curious to know what the Next Big Thing in IT will be after our rapturous experience with smartphones. It may be presumptuous to ask where technology will take us next when we already live in an unbelievable world where GPS now allows us to drive to a new location with unparalleled ease and we can dig out personal details about our neighbors by typing their names into Google.

Other mobile smart devices on the horizon may supersede smartphones. If the Next Big Thing is in a form of television, rapidly evolving digital technology poses a challenge to the technology world.

Smart TVs, as their phone counterparts have done, will open a Pandora’s Box of media experiences in living rooms. But the scope and speed of change depend on the evolution of not just the hardware, but of applications and content - in other words, software.

The developers of these new technologies must be armed with a full quiver of creativity to create - and adapt to - an entirely new media landscape. They must sail into uncharted waters and draw a new map of the digital realm.

We have seen several surprising and inspiring examples of people doing just that. IT history is being rewritten by innovators and creators who fly beyond the palpable boundaries of space and time. We were mesmerized by the on-screen reality and spectacular 3-D experience of James Cameron’s epic science fiction saga “Avatar.” Cameron’s next film plans to take viewers undersea.

While most think of outer space when envisioning a sci-fi motion picture, an inventor conjures up an adventure story in the deepest sea. Smartphones transform 0s and 1s into imaginative art forms. The phone in your palm instantly becomes more than a tech device, but something that reads and connects with your mind.

Social networking services are also hybrids of the human and digital world. The physical distance between people has been bridged by the warmth of a smart device. When this evolves to the three-dimensional realm, a mere reading experience - the capacity of older tech devices - will give way to seeing and feeling, and the former isolation and disconnection between man and machine will be gone forever.

The ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi once said: “You have heard of flying with wings, but you have never heard of flying without wings. You have heard of the knowledge that knows, but you have never heard of the knowledge that does not know.” In terms of IT, we have broad wings and deep knowledge. We should use these blessings to map an entirely new digital world.

Where would this ability come from? Convergence has opened a new world for the traditional communications industry. In technology, too, we need to apply convergence theory.

Whenever I interview job applicants, I am despondent by the narrow and shallow minds of most young people. They answer in the same cliche patterns, recklessly cite theories and opinions of others as if they are their own, and brag about identical abilities.

We cannot expect these people to lead the way in the future IT world. The limitations of engineering, humanities and management courses at universities cannot incubate and foster “smart” and convergent human resources.

Instead of drawing up fences and ordering them to play within, we must teach the young to break free and look beyond. After all, it is our young navigators who have the answer to “where we are going.”

*Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
The writer is vice chairman of LG U+, formerly LG Telecom.

By Lee Sang-chul
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