Thursday, January 20, 2011

Best technological advances for technophobes

Yesterday I discussed technological advances with friends who are technophobes. What new features do we like the most?

- years ago, when I first had a wifi connection at home, it changed my life. I suddenly started carrying my laptop around and using the internet constantly for everything (when is the next bus? what shall I make for dinner? how can I deal with this or that problem of the moment, such as opening a bottle of wine without a corkscrew, helping my niece with Math, and what not). I would not have predicted that the small change from cable to wifi would have such an impact on my life! But now I am finding that there is a downside to that flexibility - when the internet is at my fingertips at all times, suddenly there is much less time for quiet reflection, or research, or reading books, etc. On balance I think that I had a better quality of life before wifi.

- this year I discovered the tablet as a substitute for blackboard (or whiteboard) teaching. Although I use very little of its possibilities, I still love it and am advocating it with my friends. Never before have I been ahead of the curve in using technological innovations! They are surprised and respond to my enthusiastic assessment with interest.

- a couple of friends last year have been praising the iphone. But I have seen it interrupt dinner conversations and absorb a fraction of its owner's attention at a time when it ought to be directed to the people who are physically present. I fear its invasiveness.

- our lectures this week are being videotaped and will be put on the internet. Will this be revolutionary? I saw at Microsoft thath it could be quite useful, but will this really change the way we work? I am not sure.

- one of my friends yesterday praised synchronization of applications. He said it changed his work life. Now that his agenda, email, documents, etc, are automatically synchronized on his iphone, his environment at work, and his environment at home, that his applications are synchronized to one another, and that archiving is done automatically, it saves him a lot of time that used to be spent on such dull tasks. I am tempted but the comfort of his work conditions, as he describes them, but fearful that it might mean another encroachment of technology onto my life.

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