I wonder if it is not time for a simpler life, one with less technology. There are parts of technology I like, for instance being able to blog, and digital cameras. But honestly our lives are too wrapped up in technology. I blog because I like to write, not because of the technology. In another time I would just have just kept a journal. Were we happier when not everything in the world was thrown at us every day? Is ignorance bliss? Maybe.
Because everything we tend to do becomes more complicated over time, for it seems like that is the way of progress. Cars worked quite fine without dozens of CPUs inside them, and they were much easier to fix, but for some reason we continue to add more and more things. Ironically this makes them complicated to the point where the average person can no longer fix them. It’s the same with everything else. “Smart” microwaves with 1001 features, intelligent fridges. We don’t need any of them. Why?, because past a certain point there isn’t much in the way of added benefits to more technology.
Companies always think that people want more tech, but want people want is more organic design. By organic, I mean built in such a manner that using the device is trivial, with only the features required for it to do its job. Washing machines are a great example. Ever wonder why machines in laundromats are so simple to use? Because nobody wants complicated machines. Washing machines at home are often super complicated with 1001 features, most of which will never be used. Nobody needs 100 different wash cycles. But these machines are designed by engineers who likely have never actually used a washing machine, and have little or no understanding of the “Keep It Simple Stupid” principle of design. I’m reminded of this when I watch a video of someone who is able to rebuild a tractor that has sat in the forest for 20 years. Mechanical devices are able to be fixed, because they are simple and rely on very few electronics. The same could not be said of electronics-laden devices. It’s the same reason I can pick up a 1960’s era SLR and still use it.
Beyond a certain point, there is little or no benefit to adding more technology to a system. Sometimes it just ends up adding layers of confusion. For example smartphones are not really that smart. Every incarnation adds very little in the way of improvements, but leaves more orphaned apps in its path. About the only thing that really gets a little better is a marginal improvement in battery technology, and better cameras. Sure, the computational photography used by some smartphones is pretty neat, especially to deal with situations like low-light, but the overall image quality is still not as good as a good digital camera (nor will it likely ever be).
The world has too much technology in it, and there are many times one could just shut the world out and be happier I imagine.