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DNA's Observations on Technology (part I)

Post 1

Jack Point

It's been a little over two years since I posted my last journal entry in which I mentioned that Douglas Adams gave a speech in 1997 that changed my life (or at least, it changed my career.) Maybe it's about time I shared the secrets I learned from him...two brilliant observations on the nature of technology.

His first observation was that technology can only become useful when we stop noticing other words, when we stop thinking of it as technology. In other words, useful technology doesn't misbehave, crash, make obnoxious noises, lose its signal, etc. It's not a novelty that we're looking for an excuse to exploit. Rather, it's something with which we interact so naturally that we don't even think about it...but thanks to its technology, our lives are improved.

Example of useful technology: the brakes in a modern car can sense road conditions (wet, icy, etc.) and how suddenly you pressed the brake pedal, and adjust accordingly to provide the safest, fastest, most comfortable stop possible while reducing the chance of skidding and losing control of the vehicle. I admit this sort of technology is not very exciting, but it definitely improves my life.

Example of not-useful technology: I don't understand this, but a lot of people envision the "house of the future" as containing all sorts normal appliances with touch-screens and web-browsers built into them. Is a microwave oven really a better device if you can look up recipes (or e-mail, or pornography) on the Internet with it? Given that the world has yet to produce a crash-proof web browser, how often would I have to reboot my microwave? And wouldn't doing so cause my frozen dinner to cook unevenly and taste even worse than it would otherwise? Is this really an improvement?

Thank you very much, but if it's all the same to you, I'll stick with my mother's all-analog first-generation radar range.

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DNA's Observations on Technology (part I)

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