Sunday, April 19, 2009

Low thoughts on high technology

I'll be blogging over at this Tuesday so in the meantime, I'm sharing one man's view of technology in this guest blog

By Frank Cook, aka Husband No. 1

How old is that geezer in the window?

“Some folks, in looks, take so much pride
They don’t care much ‘bout what’s inside.
But as for me, I know my face
Will n’er become a thing of grace.
And so I think I’d rather see
If I can fix the inside of me.
So folks will say, ‘He looks like sin,
But ain’t he beautiful within.’”

That, I think, is my favorite "mommily" and I’m a little surprised that I still remember it. I suppose I shouldn’t be, though, since it was drilled into my brother and sisters and me from an early age. I think we heard it every Sunday when Mom finally gave up on making us presentable for church. (I also vaguely recall a hairbrush, a heavy sigh and a sad lament, “Well, that’s the best I can do.” I’m sure that was a reference to my sisters.) But I digress.

Mom’s old saying came rushing back to me the other day with the purchase of my first video Web cam. Like all healthy adults “of a certain age,” as soon as I got it installed – which, admittedly took a while – I immediately looked around for a proper subject for my first video attempt.

Needless to say, I didn’t have to look far. What better subject than me? Without going through all the machinations of “frank-video-sample-1,” (subsequently deleted), “frank-video-sample-2,” (also deleted), “frank-video-sample-3, 4 and 5” (deleted, deleted, deleted), what I ultimately discovered was this:

Just because you have technology, doesn’t mean you should use technology, and just because you can use technology, that doesn’t mean you should use it on yourself.

Dr. Jekyll taught us an important lesson here that most of us would be well-served to remember.

Decades ago, the first time I recorded my own voice on a tape recorder (“This is Frank. One, two, three, four, five …) and played it back, I couldn’t believe how weird my own voice sounded. The same thing happened when I shot my own video.

Who was that old guy and where did he come from? More importantly, how do we keep from ever digitizing him again?

I read a Pew Internet survey the other day that suggested at least half of Americans are dissatisfied with their technology. Count me among them.

They say (first) that their technology is hard to install, (second) hard to understand when it is installed, and (third) hard to get to work properly. Then, when it is working properly, (fourth) more than half complain that it adds stress to their lives that they never had before because they feel they need to use it.

How true.

I have dismantled my Web cam and removed the software from my computer. My stress has gone down and my life has improved.

I remember the immortal words from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (the book, not the movie), when the monster (state-of-the-art technology at the time) finally wields his power over the doctor, proclaiming, “You are my creator, but I am your master!”

Dr. Frankenstein should have included an uninstall program. Much less stress.

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