Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
We have a small army of machines at our beck and call every day: From the way we wake up in the morning to the electronics that wash our clothing and our dishes. Without these devices, many of us could not live the way we do; leaving after breakfast and not arriving home until dinner. They are great conveniences that have changed the way we live.
Through that logic, it seems that any device with some added computer chips would be an improvement to our world. Certainly this is the thinking of manufacturers, for wherever you turn, every device is trying to be smarter, faster, better, and more digital. Do all devices need these advancements? Sure, our cell phones, now handheld computers, have allowed us to work anywhere worldwide, but do I need a circuit board on everything?
The Extinction of the Analog Crock-Pot
As a person (alright, as a woman) raising two kids and running a company, I tend to lead a pretty hectic life. For this reason, the Crock-Pot and I have become close personal friends. Once a week I tend to bring out this bowl of magic and make great warm meals that are ready when I walk in the door. That is until it broke. One day it works, and the next it was dead (which was fun to find out before seven in the morning as I was attempting to prepare that night's meal). When I finally found the time to run out and grab a new one, I found that Crock-Pots are now hopped up on electronic steroids. I don’t need a timer—I just want the darn thing to turn on, get warm, and cook the meal.
What I desired (an analog Crock-Pot) was going out of style. Alas, one lonely unit was still on the demo shelf with exact lack of smarts that I fancied. So, I bought the display that didn’t have a box—the last lone ranger of its kind.
The Digital Dryer for No Reason
When my dryer broke this past spring, the only choices available were "smart" ones. Oddly what drives me the craziest is the extra button press. Each time I use the dryer, I first have to turn it on via the power button and then choose the setting I want. Now see, I don’t need a fancy setting; I just want that darn thing to dry. I’ve quickly realized that the "regular" setting does not dry. Instead, I have to request the dryer to "dry more" (I’m guessing this is due the unit being green and eco-friendly). This is another example where the technology doesn't make my life better. Added electronics have resulted in more button pressing, frustration, and some wet clothes.
Technology should solve a problem, not create it. It should be used to make life better, not just to sell a more expensive Crock-Pot or dryer. Is anyone out there actually using eight different cycles on his or her dishwasher? Even cars have essentially become computers. And now, at the end of the month, we are jumping into the smart watch world with the release of the iWatch. Will it solve a problem? Will it improve life? Or will it be just another piece making things more complicated instead of simpler?
We need to remember, as the technology specialist, it is our job to make life simpler for the client. Put fewer buttons on the remote (even if you, the programmer, would want more). Introduce into the client's world new devices that make life cooler, like the right streaming player for them (even if you are not making money on that device). It is up to us to sort through this tech-chaos and bring about a betterment of life. We have been telling a simpler life story for years–and we have finally arrived at a time where we can make it happen.
Where have you seen technology fail? Tell me in the comments below.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.