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Why Technology Does Not Work August 10, 2011

Posted by shwaldman in Society, Technology, Work.
Tags: , , , , ,

When I grew up, there were no (or very few) cell/mobile phones. The phones we used had a rotary dial that required you to work to make your call. When you wanted to do a load of wash, the machine probably only had 5 modes for small, medium and large loads. A car radio had AM and FM and maybe a cassette player (or 8-track). According to the Nielson Company, 50% of cell phones will be smartphones (versus feature phones) by the end of 2011. (I might actually switch early next year if I think I can finally justify the data plan.) So, today, these smartphone cell phones are computers that can do just about anything (take pictures, send emails, play games) and even the basic feature phones can do these things. My washing machine has 12 preset cycles, plus additional options for fluffing the wash, timed cycles, and using less water while it auto adjusts/recognizes the size of the load. My car radio has AM, FM, 6 CD slots, Sirius XM, as well inputs for Bluetooth, Auxiliary cable and even USB. (yes, I have tried all of them.)

In the US, we pride ourselves on having options. Those are a lot of options. At what point is there too many? There are over 300,000 apps in Apple’s app store. Many of those are different photography apps that can give you any number of filters, editing features and sharing tools. Think about all the ways you could share a picture with others.
1) Print it and send it via “real” mail.
2) Email it.
3) Post it to Flickr, Picasa, Snapfish, Kodak, and many many others.
4) Tweet it to TwitPic, Instagram, yFrog, and many many others.
5) Facebook, Google+, others….

I think I could go on and on. How do you decide? Which is the “best”? Is one more effective or efficient? In today’s world, we are all looking for ways to be more productive, but I have ask, how can we be more productive with all these options and new ones that come out every day?

The next part of the problem our society has with all these technology advances is that each one has more options than people can comprehend. While all these improvements are supposed improve our productivity, only a small percentage of people even 1) know about new application 2) take the time to learn about new options and 3) make it a habit enough to make them more productive. While a larger percentage of people are using these complex tools for games like Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and others that don’t do much for productivity or real mental stimulation and enhancement.

I am very concerned about this cycle. There is a whole industry built around this process and the amount of real productivity gains we get is so small. One of the current financial debate topics in the US revoles around the urgency for more jobs. More than two years ago, after the financial crisis started, I wrote about a need for a new outlook on the “new economy”. But two year later, the debate still hasn’t resulted in any clarity. Do we want to create more jobs that are just creating more brain drains? Are we creating jobs solely to support our need to have more time wasters? I don’t get it.

And as I write this, I think about the reporting that is coming out of Somalia and the massive famine and drought that is destroying that area. We have a massive disconnect between what we want and what we need. Despite all the technological improvements we have made in the last 30 years, the problems the world is experiencing are no different or are growing. The only producitivity improvements we are getting are in those things where people can make lots and lots of money. If there is no money in saving lives,… our priorities are screwed up.

Yes, there a niche markets for people to “donate” there time and some money on hobbies that look into goodwill activities. But what we need is a way to funnel more of the world’s free time and talents into solving the world’s issues. Every time I run on a treadmill or workout on a stationary bike, I think about how inefficient that is. Yes, I am doing something good for my health, but I am also using electricity, when in fact there are ways that my activity could be generating electricity. And why doesn’t this change? My hypothesis is that the answer is that while the initial price of adding the generator technology is there, it isn’t as much as the money the electricity company is losing month after month.



1. EZPC Recycle, Inc. - August 10, 2011

When technology goes awry make sure you recycle! http://wp.me/pUSBH-13

2. Why Technology Does Not Work – Take 2 « Some Waldman’s Blog – Finding Balance in the Flood of Information - August 26, 2011

[…] couple of week ago, I wrote a post “Why Technology Does Not Work” did not turn out at all as I had expected. I had planned to go into why the advanced in software […]

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