Saturday, May 27, 2006

Luddites Unite! You Were Right!

Remember how computers were supposed to replace typewriters in offices? But every office still has at least one typewriter that serves no purpose except to type addresses on envelopes. It's just too time consuming and frustrating to format a document and your printer everytime you want a letter to go out.

Remember how your old $25 Kodak camera from the drug store would take a picture the very instant you pressed the little button? Now, with your $300 digital camera, you press the button and wait a second or two before the shutter clicks. Meanwhile, your subject has moved out of range.

When you made all your calls from what we now call a "land line" did you spend half your conversation asking, "Can you hear me now?"

A posting on asks why advances in technology are so frustrating. They quote a Wall Street Journal article that calls that the frustrations I mentioned above the "important virtues of their predecessors." Yes, I suppose expecting a new product to work at least as good as the one it replaces would be a virtue.

And, of course, you can get those virtues back if you're willing to spend for it. An $800 camera will solve your shutter lag problem. A $300 phone will be less noisy. A special label-making printer can be had for under $100.

And, for those of who work for a living, who use the phone that came free with the service, and the camera that's only slightly over-priced, and has no room on their desk for specialty printers, well, we'll just have to work a little bit harder, won't we?

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