Last time I started what will be a series on technology in our lives. I set the stage by equating so much of the technology we use without understanding how it works, and not being much worried about that in most cases, to magic.
So all right, we have these pieces of everyday magic all around us. Which ones are your favorites? When you think about it, there are so many to choose from. Here’s a list that isn’t even close to complete.
- Desktop computers
- Laptop computers
- Tablet computers
- Productivity programs for any of these (word processing, accounting, etc.)
- Ordinary cell phones
- Cable TV
- Satellite TV
- The internet generally
- Other TV-like services (Hulu, Roku, etc.)
- Digital video recorders
- GoPro cameras
- Video games and game consoles
- Music streaming services
- Video streaming services (Netflix, etc.)
- Social media
- Driving navigation aids/apps
- Traffic advisory aids/apps
- Safe-driving aids (lane-keeping, head-up displays, etc.)
- Weather apps
- Other smartphone apps
- Microwave ovens
- Other programmable kitchen appliances
- Programmable thermostats/HVAC systems
- Cell phone enabled home security systems (the Ring video doorbell)
- Baby monitors
…and the list goes on.
It’s pretty astonishing how much technology there is in our lives. This list is mostly just things that are in our homes and pockets. I haven’t even touched the kinds of things in the outside world, from power distribution systems to air traffic control to hospital and other medical technologies like CT scans to traffic light control systems to robots in manufacturing plants to… well, you get the idea.
When/if we stop to think about it—which we rarely do, technology being so deeply embedded in our lives—it’s enough to make our heads spin.
OK, so what’s your favorite piece of technology? Not which one makes you most productive, necessarily, or safer, or healthier. What gives you the most pleasure or satisfaction? Do any? Maybe none do.
That’s kind of where I am. I’ve been around long enough to have a reference point for how much things have changed over the decades. Long-distance phone calls used to be something special and expensive. Not anymore. That’s cool, but not, in and of itself, something that gives me pleasure. Same for other ways of communicating long distance, like Skype and the other video-conferencing systems I’ve used.
I don’t listen to music much, or watch movies, so streaming services don’t do anything for me. Sure, it’s nice to watch my favorite sports teams on TV (or on my computer or phone, if I used those services), no matter where they’re playing, but that’s not important to me.
My programmable coffee maker has a timer, so I could load it the night before and it would have coffee ready for me when I stumbled into the kitchen in the morning. That would be pleasant. Do I use it? No.
I could go on, but there’s not much point. About the only device I can think of that I’ve gotten pleasure out of is my (24 year old) car, but mostly when I’ve gone to performance driving events. Even though it’s that old, it’s got embedded technologies in it: power-assisted steering and computer-assisted braking, a computer-controlled engine, etc., but it’s the yee-hawing around the track or autocross course that’s fun, and any car could provide some degree of that.
Otherwise, all the technology around me just is. It helps me do things faster and better—sometimes, anyway.
But back to you. Are you like me, using but not getting any special pleasure out of the devices and technologies around you? Or is there something that gives you a special kind of joy?
In later posts, I’ll talk about our least favorite things, and the things we could give up, or things that we wouldn’t. Meanwhile, the comment box below is waiting to you to use it. And maybe even enjoy doing so.