It’s amazing how you can feel glee and anger in the same moment or, as I call it, glanger. I have this so often with technology. The glee of finding a new app that solves a major pain in your life; the anger when that app freezes and you have to restart your phone to get it going again. The glee of being able to drive with Google Maps and miss half the traffic jams; and the anger when Google Maps sends you the wrong way into roadworks it didn’t know were there. The glee of listening to streaming music everywhere and anywhere; and the anger of not being able to get that music to play on your Sonos system because Amazon Prime is incompatible with it, for some strange reason.
OK, that last one is personal, but you get the drift. Being personal, I’ve had quite a few technology meltdowns this week. Microsoft said there was an Office update which, when I clicked to install, wiped out all my Outlook email. A new PC has McAfee antivirus on it but, because I entered my new email address rather than my old email address that I use for McAfee subscriptions, it won’t let me use McAfee and won’t allow an email address to be changed, forcing me to take out a second subscription. My Apple Mac decided to fill my hard drive to the point that it won’t let me save any new files, and I have no idea why a terabyte of storage has filled up so fast. My desktop PC keeps going into s l o o o w w w w w w w w w w w wwwwww mode, and I’ve no idea what it’s doing.
In other words, for all my love and glee of our hi-tech world, we’re still very low tech to be honest. A phone that has a battery for half a day (still); a complete dependency on finding a power point (not a PowerPoint) to function in this world; a massive focus on keyboard and touch, and yet the most natural interface is surely our voice.
These things are changing gradually thanks to Alexa, Siri and Cortana, but it’s still early days. In fact, we are only 70 years into the digital revolution. The first commercial computer came out in 1946. It was massive and slow, but it worked. Since then, we’ve seen wave after wave of tech change, and it’s still ongoing. The big thing today is that we are no longer in the high cost, high resource, slow tech change of the past decades. Things are far more fluid and fast today and, as a result, cheap. But we still have a long ways to go.
In fact, I look at the space probes we put out there, and am flabbergasted that we could get high definition images of the planet Pluto. Someone described the probe that was sent to capture such images as being like throwing a stone from New York and knowing that it was thrown with such precision and power that it would be caught by someone sitting on a beach in Albufiera, Portugal. Wow! That was a glee moment. In fact, the more we talk about space travel and exploration, the more excited I get as we move from science fiction to science fact. But we just have to hope that our space operations aren’t running on Windows or iOS.