Last time I asked what your least favorite piece of technology is. That’s a nice but sneakily misleading segue into this week’s topic. Here’s the question: If you had to give up one piece of technology, and you could choose which one, what would it be?
Actually, let me make that question a bit harder. If you had to give up one piece of technology that played an important role in your everyday life, and you had to choose which one, what would it be?
See the difference? It’s easy to give up, say, the battery-powered drill you only use once in a while, so that doesn’t count. About a year ago, I gave up the anti-lock braking system (ABS) on my car. The hydraulic actuator failed and my mechanic told me it was going to cost $3,500, parts and labor, to replace it. I’m not sure the car’s worth that much, and I’ve never actually had to use the ABS system, except at a couple of safety schools, so that was a pretty easy decision. And it doesn’t count, either.
But what about something you use and need—or think you need—every day? That’s a different animal. Would you give up your smart phone, and have to go back to using a landline, and a separate camera, and a Day-Timer®, etc.? Do you hate being tied to that electronic leash, yet find it indispensable now?
What about your broadband internet? Can you even imagine going back to dial-up? “File download will be complete in 3 days, 16 hours, 27 minutes.” Scary, huh? Well, today is Halloween.
How about your cable or satellite TV? We typically use only 10 or fewer channels of those 150 in the package anyway, and besides, there’s nothing on that’s worth watching. No more 4K Ultra-High Definition picture? Who’d even heard of that 10 years ago?
What about your computer? I mean all forms of them—laptop, desktop, tablet, phone—not just replacing a desktop with a laptop or tablet. No more e-mail, no more Facebook, no more blogs (Whoa! Wait a minute!), no more annoying banner ads, no more spam except the kind that comes in a can. Hmmm. That’s actually about 37 dozen technologies, though, so maybe it doesn’t count.
Sure, this is an arbitrary and artificial question, but I hope it’ll provoke a little thought. And it’s a great lead-in to next week’s post.
What would I give up? Probably the microwave oven. The things I use it for most—defrosting and/or reheating foods I’ve frozen—I could do other ways. I rarely cook in it, and I’ve got a cooktop and oven that could take its place. They’re just slower. I use the nuker just about every day but in truth it’s a convenience item. I could give it up.
What about you? Will you give up the technology of the comment box, or use it?