Change is like Marmite

Graham Storer
Graham Storer

There’s a lot about at present. Change that is, not Marmite, and it is causing consternation.

There was the surprise vote for Brexit; the equally surprising vote for Donald Trump in USA; and connecting both, as I write, the suggestion from Mr Trump that Nigel Farage be our US Ambassador.

And Ed Balls remained in Strictly Come Dancing only by popular vote! Popular mood seems to be anti-establishment, favouring underdogs who chime with us. However, it’s a change we’ve little experience of in serious matters and few case studies on which to predict.

At school I learnt about the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions. Cars from Ford’s plant in Dagenham passed my school bus stop, evidence of assembly line mass production. I worked through an era of profound change to digital technologies and on into the Knowledge Revolution. We tried to protect our valuable knowledge assets while moving manufacturing itself to low cost countries like China.

Twenty five years ago I came across technology for the military which I thenth ought incredible. It was manufacturing on demand aboard naval ships. If a part is needed, make it with instructions downloaded from the ether.

I was working on similar research for the construction industry. And guess what? It has happened via robotics and developments such as 3D printing which forms intricate parts layer on layer.

In 2010 I had a crown replaced. My mouth was scanned and I saw displayed a 3D model of my teeth, and the gap. A digital tooth was then placed and adapted to fill the gap, with the data transmitted to a micro-lathe to duly sculpt my new crown.

In the future, such technologies may bring manufacturing back by parts being made on demand, locally.

Couple that with a ubiquitous shift to self-service, drone delivery and the requirement to be online to do anything much, and you can appreciate how difficult change can be for some of us to even grasp an idea, let alone understand it.

Thus, I’m seriously considering proposing a programme of talks on Technology Awareness for Dummies (TAD), in aid of our wellbeing.

Technology should be our servant not master. That requires ‘techies’ to reach down to our level and us to reach up to grasp the basics of the new 3 R’s! The Marmite test. Do you hate, love or simply accept change? It depends on the change and how it might impact you, of course. Like it or not change seems set to continue apace and more widely, affecting the way familiar services are provided to us. A concern is that the ‘old’ qualities (which are bang up to date) of relationships between people should not be lost; we must and can do something locally about that ourselves.

A phrase has been coined for the era we appear to be entering -‘Post-Truth’. It refers to a new culture of political debate with calculated focus on emotions, while dismissing policy detail (the facts).

There are repeated assertions using headline-grabbing sound bites that drown out opposing factual argument. Social media feeds it.

Brexit and the US election thrived on it and the associated verbal abuse.

What of local change?

Whitby faced industrial and social change many times in the past and looks set to do so again with new offshore supply services and major mining.

Changes often hold Marmite challenges but whether we are personally for or against something, I hope we can be passionate in different views without treading a Post Truth path.