“Everything is amazing, nobody is happy… This is what people are like now, they’ve got their phones, and they’re like ‘Ugh…It… it won’t!’ WOULD YOU GIVE IT A SECOND! It’s going to space! Can you give it a second to come back from space?” – Louis C.K.
(If you have 8 minutes I recommend you watch this video of Louis C.K. on Conan O’Brien from a few years back. If you only have 5 minutes, start the video from 3:16.)
Cable boxes freeze. Phones crash. Computers need to be rebooted. Technology is not a perfect science. Sometimes, it is downright aggravating. It got me thinking; is technology a friend of a foe? Here are some examples:
Communication: Why talk when you can text? When is the last time you talked on the phone? (Beyond work, where you “have to.”) Or had a face-to-face conversation with an old friend? Some schools are no longer teaching cursive. Will the pen become obsolete? We went from handwritten letters to typed letters, to email, to text. Sure, it has become easier to communicate, and yet we’re using fewer and fewer words. Friend of foe?
I’m going with a tie. Yes, we may be losing touch of what is really going on around us, but without technology there wouldn’t be spell check and then you wouldn’t be able to read my meanderings. (Well, my editor would have a lot more work to do.) Plus email has allowed us to communicate quicker and get more work done.
Entertainment: DVRs, HDTVs, smart devices, streaming. This seems like an easy winner for “friend.” Hasn’t technology made our entertainment lives so much better? Yet, if you ask your average consumer (hopefully not your clients) if their system is easy to use, what do you think their answer would be? How many remotes are they using?
I’ve often wondered: why is it so hard to make this easy? (Not hard for the likes of us, the custom integrators, but hard for the consumer.) I had a rep explain to me that he put music on a thumb drive to play tunes in his car because he didn’t want to sync his phone for fear of what might happen. (When he synced his iPad, all of his contacts doubled up and he was afraid it would happen again.) So, here you have the ability to listen to all the music off your phone wirelessly (Bluetooth) in your car, and people are afraid to do it, or they just don’t know how.
Who’s the winner here? I’m going with “friend.” We’ve had too many leaps forward in tech on the entertainment side in the past decade to say “foe.” I’m guessing this one depends on whom you ask…
Education: Remember the introduction of the calculator? I do. Before that, kids could count back change at the grocery store. Not anymore. My six-year-old daughter talks about how much more they can do in school now that they have their “BenQ.” Homework for her is in the form of websites (not all of it, but some of it).
Used well, technology can be a huge “friend” in education. I think we’ll continue to see this segment grow. Haven’t we been teaching analog in a digital world? Let’s just not lose the basics (like how to tie a shoe… oh wait).
I think we all need to take a step back and, “Give it a second. It’s going to space.” We as integrators need to understand and recognize that technology can be frustrating. How many times have you told a client to “unplug it and plug it back in?” This is why we exist. To make their lives better when using the latest, greatest, technology.
No, it’s not a perfect science, but with a seasoned custom integrator by your side, everything is going to be A-OK.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is project manager/designer for Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.