The inspiration for this post came from my husband, who adopted digital technology a few short years ago under duress. He regularly sputters and spurts about these confounded contraptions (computers, mp3 players, printers, what have you), even though he can maneuver his way around several of them quite handily.
For him, there are several points of contention. He has a very logical brain, but has discovered that often, the way websites or applications are designed is highly illogical. Remember how you have to push the “Start” button on Windows XP in order to stop/shut down the computer? That kind of illogical, which he finds all over the place online.
Another issue is the lack of standardization between websites, apps and file formats. Why is the log-in/log-out link not in the same place, or at least really obvious from website to the next? On one shopping site I use, I can easily find the log-in, but logging out meant having to follow some obscure link that it made no sense to follow.
When it comes to music, this lack of standardization is readily apparent between iTunes/iPod and everything else. Obviously, this lack of standardization is all about keeping proprietary control over products. In retaliation, some music download sites, like SpiralFrog, don’t work with the iPod. To this, Hubby says, “Remember how you could put a CD is ANY CD player and hit play and the thing would play?”
A further issue is language. The digital realm is full of obscure language that leaves mere mortals scratching their heads. “Ur so pwned, u stoopid N00b!” Even when not slipping into geek-speak, language usage for attempting certain actions can be puzzling. Hubby was trying to copy new music downloads from his computer to his mp3 player and kept having to deal with “syncing,” which, if you’re used to mp3 players, IS copying music from one device to another, but why is it called “syncing?” Why a fancy term when the easier one still works?
But perhaps the biggest frustration Hubby has with technology is how it keeps changing. That, actually, is my biggest frustration with it too. Just as you’re getting into the groove of a new application, someone gets the bright idea to redesign it and you’re in learning mode all over again.
According to the article “The New Reality: Constant Disruption” on Harvard Business Publishing, when there was a large technological advance in the past, say, the automobile, there was a flurry of innovation when the advance was first made, but over time, the innovation settled down enough so that society and business could assimilate the advance. This has not been the case with digital technology. The change has been continual and unrelenting, forcing all of us to hang on for dear life in order to keep up.
What this means is that we never get a chance to really learn how to use all the features of the tech we adopt. Which means we can’t ever get comfortable enough with technology in order to learn how to push it for our own creative ideas or productivity. Which means many of us are stuck in a perpetual state of sputtering and spurting.