The promise of technology

Don’t get me wrong. I love technology and I love its potential to change the world.

But…

I used to walk around the open plan offices at the BBC looking at all those people staring blankly at the beige PCs on their desks (which cost many millions to supply and support) rather than talking to each other and wondered what the ROI was.

I watch most people struggling to cope, still, with even basic use of their computers, unaware of all the wonderful productivity and creative power waiting at their fingertips.

Even teenagers, the “Gen Y” on whom so much faith is placed, use about ten percent of the power of their smart phones and that mostly to chat with each other and share selfies.

Is this inevitable? Does accessing all of this wonderful potential take a geeky mentality that most don’t have, or even want to have? Will things get easier as interfaces improve, or will technology continue to outpace most of the population causing stress, frustration, and inefficiency?

6 thoughts on “The promise of technology”

  1. Mr. Semple,

    I think the Web, Internet, mobile etc… are still too young to determine if the "promise" of technology will deliver through our ability to interact with it.

    Technological advances might need to "slow down" and allow us to "get good" at using it (big picture, a sum of all types, interfaces, modes, methodologies etc…).

    If Samsung et al. keep coming out with a new smart phone every 90 days, how do we get good at using the last one? Especially when we can’t resist the temptation to upgrade?

    Maybe, if we can quit upgrading, we can "catch up" to the interface you mentioned?

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  2. The real perversion is every attempt Microsoft make to dumb down their operating system to make it easier to use sees me go to increased efforts to disable all their handiwork so I can get closer to a representation of Windows that is more intuitive to me and harder to use for most others. That’s the geek’s parafox: the easier technology is to use; the less likely I am likely to want to engage with it. Figure that one out!

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  3. To me, this is because it’s actually not about the technology at all, but what people want and need from it. What drives these advances – is it really about customer experience, first and foremost, or about the high-stakes race to appear to deliver ‘bigger and better’ things? Who are they trying to impress? No tech firm is going to develop and release an upgrade that has – or appears to have – a smaller list of capabilities than the previous one, even if that’s what your ‘average’ customer would actually want.

    I totally get your ‘10%’ point about use of smartphones – in fact I often wish my phone didn’t have half the functionality and built-in apps that it does, because I don’t need them and they just clog things up, making it harder and more time-consuming to do the handful of things I want to do (and which previous versions therefore did much faster and more easily). So, similarly to but also opposite to Andrew, every time I grapple with a new, more ‘sophisticated’ version,it just makes me long for the simplicity of older ones!

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