I live in a way that relies entirely on computers, from shopping and communicating, to writing and designing and even reading.
But there are some things about the computer world that drive me crazy and make me wish to go back to pen and paper, print books, and, if not actually horse and carriage, at least mechanical cars that don’t need rebooting when they break down.
The main one of these is the endless and often apparently pointless updating and redesigning of devices post-purchase.
As, recently, when after downloading a new book onto my electronic reader, I forgot to put it back into aeroplane mode.
I went to fetch a glass of water with every intention of continuing to read as soon as I got back.
It took this brief pause as permission to update and render itself unavailable for use.
I was somewhat annoyed.
When it eventually switched itself back on, I found the go-to button had switched itself from the left side of the menu to the right side.
If there are any other changes, I’m thankful to say I haven’t found them yet.
I think of computers as tools which are there to get a job done. I want to be able to use them as efficiently as possible – and at a time of my own convenience. I don’t want them to keep switching off to do things whenever I put them down. I don’t want to have to keep learning yet again where everything is or what the most efficient way to use the altered device is. I do not like change unless it confers some significant advantage.
I don’t know how people who design computers think of them. However, I suspect that most computer designers have minds which adjust quickly and are people who don’t rely heavily on familiarity and habit in their daily routines! The world would be very dull if we all had the same personality type and approach. But perhaps they could move the furniture around in their own houses every fortnight, redesign the code on their own blogs, and leave my poor e-reader and thoroughly absent-minded brain to get used to each other?
Imagine you were digging a hole in the garden for a plant with a trowel. You put the trowel down for a moment to answer the phone. When you come back, your trowel is in an unusable state, transmogrifying itself. Then you find it is actually less efficient at digging small holes, because of the added weight of the new coffee-making equipment, the UFO detection system, and the device for scaring off stray cats. Oh, and it won’t dig unless connected it to the internet, making it useless at the bottom of the garden which is too far away from the router.
Computers are not, to my mind, any different from trowels.
On the other side of the question, I use a prehistoric programme for designing rugs, and then I start appreciating things like the capacity of modern software to, for example, open the “save as” wherever you saved the last file, or press ctrl Z more than once. My home use of my computer is fairly simple, meaning that I have no use at all for all the sharing tools – they represent an inconvenient complexity on menus and in processes that used to be simpler – but I can see how useful they would probably be if that was what I wanted to achieve. And, sadly, no-one is going to remove the need for security updates.
Still, I think if someone set out to design good quality electronic devices, which were user-orientated, with the pledge that there would be no post-purchase changes in the function, other than odd tweaks to sort out bugs, security or add occasional extra features onto existing menus, without reconstruction of the design of said menus, possible lack of commercial viability would probably not have anything to do with lack of a market…