All I want for Christmas is an iPad. I’m not entirely sure why yet, other than everyone I meet nowadays seems to have one.
Well not everyone of course. Not yet anyway. But I get the feeling that it won’t be very long before these multi-functioning, ultra tactile tablets become the predominant means to deliver information.
As a purveyor of paper products the rapid move towards electronic information delivery is an interesting and challenging process. The often asked question “when will NCE be available to read on my computer?” has always brought a sense of dread - is this the death of the magazine?
Enter Apple and the question “When are you going to make NCE available on iPad?” suddenly seems much less threatening. Because as one NCE reader pointed out to me last week, “the technology now truly mimics the experience of reading paper”.
As I say, not having an iPad yet, my exposure is limited to some brief caressing in the Apple Shop. But while I accept that such devices may not be for everyone now and perhaps won’t obviate paper completely tomorrow, I’m increasingly getting the feeling that they will soon be the norm.
The sudden need for this kind of radical change in thinking has been something of a feature of 2010. As the year draws to a close it is astonishing to see how many other new norms are now upon us. We now have, for example, a government in which once sworn political enemies are finding common ground across the spectrum of policies.
“It is clear that 2011 will see more radical thoughts become the norm”
And we have been through October’s unprecedented spending review in which every section of public expenditure was challenged to deliver much more for a lot less to an extent once thought unthinkable. This week’s local authority settlements make it clear that councils will have to rethink the way that local services like road repairs, bin collections and social services are delivered.
Then there is the Localism Bill, which this week has heralded truly scary new thinking in the way public cash is spent. It means less power at the centre and more cash and control for the man in the street – whether or not he wants it or is able to handle it.
Meanwhile the Cancun G16 meeting reminded us of the scale of the challenge still facing the world to tackle climate change and the huge amount of rethinking that we still need to do in terms of renewable energy, low carbon transport and resource management.
Rest assured the future for the civil engineering profession is looking interesting. This week’s special issue on infrastructure in 2011 sets out the battleground and radical challenges facing the profession over the next 12 months and beyond.
It is clear that 2011 will see more radical thoughts become the norm. In comparison, I have to accept that simply making NCE available on the iPad now starts to seem fairly straightforward.
- Antony Oliver is NCE’s editor