How many of you have a love/hate relationship with technology? Guess what…me too!
Honestly, I can’t imagine our world today without computers, cellphones, Google, apps, Facebook, Instagram, or even TikTok. But if you are an old Yahoo, like me, then you remember what life was like before all this tech. A world that was simpler and less stressful. A life that was more private and less invasive.
Which begs the question: What exactly is “technology”? I once had a crusty colleague define technology as “anything invented or created after you were born.” This makes sense. For example, when I went to college forty years ago, we all knew who the rich kid was.
First, Owen McMillan just sounds like the rich kid, right? Second, Owen McMillan was preppy. Extremely preppy. Shocker! But mostly, everyone knew Owen McMillan was rich because when he moved into his dorm room in Fall 1982, he had his own VCR!
Can you imagine?
Today, everyone would laugh. Or worse, no one would care. Today, we can all watch whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want, on the phones in our pockets. But in 1982, VCRs were emerging and expensive technology, so no one had a personal VCR for their individual dorm room.
No one except Owen McMillan.
Whenever I find myself struggling to embrace the newest…latest…greatest, I remember and reflect on Walt Disney. Because Walt was always moving forward, always working toward a “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” he was never afraid to welcome new technology. We see this with sound in “Steamboat Willie,” we see it again with the expansion of short cartoons into a full-length animated feature film with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and we see it with Disneyland—an opportunity for guests to step into a story and experience virtual reality…virtual reality before current terms or technology even existed!
My newest “Carousel of Progress” is trying to start a YouTube channel. Apparently, not everyone in 2023 likes to read books or open emails. Video is king, and almost everyone loves YouTube.
Honestly, I don’t get it? I grew up with network television and remember when switching from a local antenna to cable was a huge upgrade. NBC, CBS, and ABC ruled the world, and it took me forever to accept FOX as a new, national network in the 1980s. Now, anyone can create their own “channel” and even children are bringing in the bucks with content I can’t even begin to understand, let alone have time to consume.
But figure it out I must. Figure it out I will.
Which reminds me of Walt embracing another technology in the 1950s: television. Early on, the movie studios in Hollywood wanted nothing to do with television fearing it would destroy their industry. “…the studios came to regard television as a homeowner does termites.” Walt, as usual, saw things differently. For him, television was an opportunity to speak directly into the American home. An opportunity to connect with the heart of the American family.
Walt tested the waters by starting with a single show, a Christmas Day special in 1950. When he assigned Bill Walsh to be the producer, Bill was dumbfounded. “Huh? But I don’t have any experience as a television producer.”
“Who does?” Walt said, and that was that!
One Hour in Wonderland was a huge hit on the afternoon of Christmas Day, 1950, capturing 90 percent of the available television audience. Walt did another special the following Christmas, with equal success, and now networks were clamoring for a weekly Disney series. Wisely, Walt would only agree if a network would buy into his latest technology…a theme park. NBC balked. So did CBS. Only ABC, the so-called “Almost Broadcasting Company,” was willing to take the risk.
Are you staying current, or do you find yourself struggling, like me, as another technology passes you by? How can you shift your attitude so that you are open to moving forward rather than staying stagnant like the studios of the 1950s? Are you connecting more than you are complaining? Are you ready for your Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow?
I have zero experience with YouTube. I have no idea how this is going to go. Nonetheless, each week I am going to record a video version of this newsletter, WEDnesdays with Walt, and let’s see how it goes. I want to invite you to join me on this journey by subscribing to my new channel here.
It’s been more than four decades now, but who knows. Maybe Owen will too?