FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, October 15, 2004

High-Tech Pushback

Could reaction against the latest high-tech innovations be the newest technology trend? Maybe, if a contributor to Ed Foster's Gripelog is a representative of a movement. In a recent post, a writer argued that many of the newest high-tech gadgets and services are not worth the trouble and expense.

The writer complains about high-speed Internet, high-end cell phones, PDAs, and online bill paying. He's not alone, as this columnist from the Detriot Free Press vents about label printers and has given up his PDA for a paper planner.

High-tech developers and marketers had better be paying attention. The average user of technology is not a geek who will cheerfully while away hours trying to make something work. They need dependability, and they have little tolerance for malfunction, especially if it costs them time or money (which it invariably does). These are not stupid people. They have lives, they're under stress, and their time is precious. This is one reason why we've never seen the much-heralded "paperless office" truly emerge; people have never -- and maybe will never -- achieve a comfort level with it.

Another problem with new technologies is that we too often try to graft them onto old or bad processes. The result is increased confusion, and compounding of problems. This will become even worse as we move toward pervasive computing, with system failures potentially triggering "domino effects" that could, in some cases, be catastrophic.

Many of the emerging technologies that early adopters like myself like to talk about are probably farther off from mainstream adoptability than we'd like to think, simply because they're not fail-safe enough for the average user. High-tech developers need to respect their time, and early adopters have a duty to catch failures and usability problems in emerging technologies.

Source: Lockergnome's Tech News Watch