Thursday, May 18, 2006

Please Send Me My Portable Walrus Polishing Kit.

Kato recently made a post on the fact that he still likes to use pen and paper, even though he can do the same task on a computer much more quickly and easily.

This got me thinking.

When do we have too many gadgets?

I’ll admit right now that I’m a complete and utter gadgetophile. If it’s shiny and got buttons, I want it.

However, even I sometimes look at things and think; What’s the point?

Take for example one of the pieces of software that came with my graphics pad. It’s a little program that lets you write on a virtual bit of paper, in your own actual handwriting…and then print it out!!

Why? What’s the point? Why don’t I just get a bit of paper and a pen? It’s quicker, easier, and considering the cost of printer ink at the minute, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper!

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, and there have been some truly technological wonders created over the past decade or so. For example, in 1990, digital TV, videophones and in car, voice activated navigation systems where pure science fiction.

However, plenty of times we’ve got things completely and totally ass-backwards. It’s supposed to go like this:

  1. I have a problem.

  2. I create a technology to help with this problem

  3. I make a gadget that uses this technology to solve my problem.

Instead, we seem to go:

  1. Create a technology.

  2. Try to find some application for it.

  3. Create a gadget, even if existing things do the job 100 times easier, quicker and more cheaply.

An example of a good use of technology is email. Regular letters take a long time to reach their destination and can get lost on the way. Some guy realized that you can send messages with computers that get to their destination at the speed of light.

There have, however, been certain technologies that I’ve just had to laugh at.

For example, one ad I saw in readers digest showed a device to help people whose vision was failing. You spend a couple hundred bucks and get an absolutely gigantic rostrum camera that connects to a TV set. You put the thing you want to read under the camera, and it magnifies the image onto the screen.

Umm, hello? There’s a device out there called a ‘magnifying glass’ that will cost you about two dollars, can fit in your pocket and does exactly the same job! You also don’t need a dump truck to move it, and you don’t need a TV, a wall socket, or batteries.

I love technology, I love gadgets…but when it’s just technology for technology’s sake, what’s the point.

I think Lee Evans, a British comedian put it best:

“New palm pilot, yeah? Cost me just nine, ninety nine, ninety nine, ninety nine! With this you can use this actual little pen to actually write on the actual screen in your own actual handwriting!”

“Yeah, well let me just get this actual piece of paper and this actual pen and I’ll write that down! Thousands of dollars worth of technology and we end up with exactly what we had in the first place!”


MC Etcher said...

It would be really cool if we (humans) could completely and utterly perfect a technology before we move on to the hot new gadget.

Paulius said...

but considering how pretty much nothing works the way it's supposed to, wouldn't we still be walking everywhere, and hunting dinner with sticks?

I get your point though

MC Etcher said...

Yeah, but the sticks would be damn near perfected now.

'Stick' version# 19,0729.031 would be kickin ass!