03.10.17 / Appreciation of all things that go ‘ping!’

Do we take technology for granted?

Think about what technology does for you, and how you feel about it. How it helps, and how it hinders — your professional life and your personal life. Could you cope without it if it were taken away?

What sort of stuff are we talking about? Phones. Laptops. Tablets. Hardware. Software. Being able to find a YouTube tutorial which tells you how to adjust your rear bicycle derailleur, or how to make a papier-mache giraffe, or how to use SolidWorks to model a clothes peg, or how to learn Swift, or how to take the perfect photo of your coffee/croissant/violets on the background of that lovely cream embroidered tablecloth for your insta feed. Properly, you can find anything. But, what if that disappeared? No need to answer straight away, just let that thought cause your anxiety to build and spread slowly through you like ink diffusing into water.  

We can talk to anyone at any time now using Skype (if and when it works), appear.in, FaceTime. Whereas ten years ago all we could hope for was an email once a week from loved ones who were overseas. And five years before that, it was a landline telephone call costing $10/minute.

So, let’s take phones for example. They help us work: emails, research, marketing through social media. They call to us late at night to check how many likes we have for that post about the thing. They remind us to call that client, or our mother. Is there a cost, though? Do we read less? Or do we read differently – and how? Do we think less? Or do we just think different[ly] (Copyright Apple Inc.)?

Do you ever think about how your interactions with others have changed over the past year/decade/decades?

Did you grow up with this tech? Or did you learn with it as it grew into what it is now?

Do you ever think about what we’ll be able to do with our personal tech in 5 years? 10 years?

I’ve spent my entire working life writing on PCs. Before that, I wrote essays using pen and paper. (Stop judging me.)

My old PC laptop died recently and I had to temporarily work on a Mac and I was immediately professionally-crippled. I took twice as long (exaggerated for effect) to get the same tasks done. That may have had something to do with my stupidity, but at least some of that slowing can be attributed to having to learn a new operating system — where the hell is the tab that lets me change the font colour on a Mac? It should be in the Home dropdown. Come one! I just want to change the colour, I don’t need to hack NORAD…

Having said that, in a couple of days I’d worked it out and was happily tapping away like I’d been using a Mac for years. Still I wonder how much we take for granted. We plan for how long a project will take using tools we’re familiar with. What happens if one or more of those tools ceases to function? How do we factor that into our timing? I can’t say it has happened more than once to me, but has it happened to any of you? What happened? How did you dig yourself out of the hole?

Send me your tales of woe, or victory, to hcampbell@agda.com.au

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Heath Campbell

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