There’s definitely a love-hate relationship going on with tech.
“I love technology!” – me when my long-distance boyfriend and I find an app that lets us watch the same Black Mirror episode on Netflix in sync
“I hate technology!” – me after watching said Black Mirror episode
We celebrate technology for making our lives easier, from health care advancements to staying in touch with faraway friends. We love that we can order things from Amazon and listen to whatever songs we want on Spotify. But we also fear it. We hate that social media can make us feel isolated. We hate that robots might be taking over the world. But regardless of how you feel about technology, it’s important to understand what’s going on.
Because love it or hate it, it’s everywhere. And staying informed is staying empowered. Even if we aren’t directly in tech careers, we still need to understand what is happening in the world at large, and these days it’s often tech. And in general…technology really is a good thing. Raise your hand if you’ve taken an Uber/Lyft in the past week, despite all the negative publicity around ride-sharing services. Raise your hand if you listen to Spotify. If you watch Netflix. If you send Snapchats. If you work out with a FitBit. If you have a bank account. If you USE GOOGLE.
As a PR professional in tech, I kind of straddle both the tech and the everyday consumer worlds, so I know what it’s like to feel like WTF is going on, while also having to know what’s going on because it’s my job.
So. Where do we start?
5 tips for keeping up with tech
Start paying attention to the innovations around you in everyday life.
Don’t just go to Sephora and try on makeup virtually and take it for granted. Really pay attention to what you’re doing. How did they figure out how to match your skin tone to the right foundation color? It’s not magic. It’s artificial intelligence and it rocks. AI is not trying to steal your job, okay? It’s just trying to save you from making the mistake of leaving the store with an expensive tube of something that will turn you orange.
Subscribe to newsletters.
Like any other corporate American living the corporate dream, I start my day by reading the morning news. Except instead of the paper, it’s all my email newsletters. As soon as I knew I was interested in doing tech PR, I subscribed to newsletters like the Fortune Data Sheet and The Hustle (it’s like TheSkimm but more tech-focused).
Read the front pages of technology news outlets like Wired.
If you want to do a deeper dive, there are a ton of news outlets out there just for tech news. And TBH, it’s a refreshing news cycle compared to the Trump train wreck I see on mainstream media outlets. Sometimes it’s nice to just read about innovation and cool things happening and the people trying to move the world forward.
A lot of lifestyle websites cover tech news, like Refinery29 and Brit + Co.
Not really into the tech media? No prob. These days you’ll likely find tech news on the sites you enjoy reading already, because like I said…Tech. Is. Everywhere. It’s in fashion, it’s in music, it’s in beauty, it’s in Starbucks. What do you think powers your mobile-ordered PSL this fall? Again, it’s not magic. It’s your app. And actually in this case, maybe a little bit of magic because those lattes are MAGICAL.
And in case you do none of the above, here’s my personal cheat sheet to general big things happening in the tech world that you should probably know:
- Artificial intelligence/machine learning
- The cloud (yes, the cloud. Ever heard of Google Drive?)
- Blockchain…but honestly, don’t even bother with this one. It’s just…a lot. It’s a lot.
Technology isn’t so bad once you know what you’re dealing with, and I hope you’re inspired to be at least a little bit more aware of what’s happening around you. Also, watching Silicon Valley at HBO definitely counts.