Ever wondered why the new cool thing is so complicated? There is a very good article which explains just that. In a nutshell: When the technology is invented, it’s invented by experts in the field. They have toyed with this idea for years, refined it, applied it in numerous projects and honed it until something new and useful came out.
Next come the early adoptors which are usually also experts in the field. They are always searching for a new, better solution and they are actively searching. The also have the background to understand what a new technology means for them, since they have the experience.
After that comes the normal user. The normal user has little idea what is going on, she just “wants to solve this simple problem.” The documentation (so far only written by experts for experts) mean little to her since she simply doesn’t have the background. She also doesn’t want to become an expert, this is usually going to be a single-strike project, so there is no intention to spend any time on learning the technology.
Technology is supposed to make our lives “easier”, but it does just the opposite. There was a time when average people could use (and often fix or adjust) gadgets, without having to resort to “experts”, or a freaking manual filled with logos and diagrams. We just bought a new camera, have read and reread the manual, and STILL can’t figure out how to put a photo onto our computer desktop. “Press secondary on-button (see step 3) menu will automatically appear on Mac (see page 7 for non-Mac) choose “import”, press ?, scroll to….choose…..then select”, blah blah blah. Our new camera doesn’t just take photos of course. It also takes movies, gives us a daily report on the state of the space-time continuum, calls 911 if our baby cries at a certain decibel level, interacts with our dog, and warns us if we put too much salt into the pasta sauce, all of this wonderfully explained in the manual. It SUCKS.
Technology has always made lives easier but not all of them and not each life by the same amount.
Today, you don’t have to be anywhere specific to call a taxi, just pull the mobile phone out of your pocket. The phone can even tell you the number of the local taxi service. That wasn’t easy 10 years go and almost impossible 20 years ago.
But technology always has downsides. There is always a price to pay for the help you get. In some cases (some feel in more cases as they grow older), the price feels steep. Often, that’s not the technology’s fault – it’s a factor of stupidity (on the side of consumers and technicians), time and money constraints.
Hey, I’d love to interact with my animals! That’s not invented yet! And, if something could call 911 when I’m having trouble breathing or anything else one would need to be coherent to do, but were not, that would be fine with me!
As for calling 911: There is smart carpet, which detect when someone falls and doesn’t get up. It also works as intruder detection.
Other products measure heart rate and breathing with sensors in your underwear. Scary but useful.
Or you can use your mobile phone: Uepaa! detects accidents and lets the phone ring. If you don’t answer, it will raise an emergency. It’s quite smart at that: It will try all kinds of connections, even other mobile phones which have the app, to get the message out.
Even better, these apps can contain emergency instructions if you’re still conscious but don’t know what to do.