of course it is. That’s hardly a shocking observation up there
in the title of this essay.
thing is, I’m finding that more and more the changes are happening
so quickly that we are often considering the latest and greatest
without even knowing about two or three other adjustments that
had been made since we were last considering our needs… and that
these two or three other adjustments were widely available.
other words, technology is moving so fast, we can’t even keep
up with it. All we can do is make an attempt every so often to
jump aboard the moving train as it roars past. Things are happening
that not only change the way we view our world, they are changing
the way we experience it, interact with it, and navigate our lives
because of it.
going to give you two examples. Both go back a couple of years.
(And for reason of clarity, along with ease of storytelling, I
understand that certain questions and options may seem apparent
and applicable. Ignore them. All I need is for you to agree the
basics as conveyed are possible… and I feel confident you’ll agree
example number one… the purchase of a book
few years ago, I wandered into the closest Barnes & Noble
to my home. Actually, it was closer to my parents, and I happened
to be visiting them that day. I wanted a copy of a book that was
usually re-released with annual updates, knew the chain usually
carried it as part of their regular inventory, and expected to
didn’t. But after a few questions for the staff, we ended in a
place where they could order it for me.
I am not exaggerating… it would have cost $50 for the book. Plus,
I would have needed to drive 45-minutes back to the store (90-minutes
round trip) to pick it up.
you’re cheating. We had an agreement that you would ignore potential
questions and options. Yes… yes… I could have used it as an opportunity
to visit my parents again. Focus people. Focus.)
got home and looked the book up… on the Barnes & Noble web
site… and found it available there for $35 with free shipping.
Even if the store was willing to match the online price (which,
it turns out, they would not have at the time), there was obviously
no reason to hop in the car for an hour and a half drive when
it would be brought to my door for free.
example number two… a new washing machine
and I needed a new washing machine. Looked around a bit, found
one, and set up delivery.
setting up the cords and hoses and more, I was talking to the
guys that brought it to our house. Two funny things that came
I could set the machine up to send alerts to my smartphone.
(You know… the smartphone that at the time I didn’t yet own.
But more to the point… what a wonderful day and age where your
washing machine can give you a call and tell you to move things
over to the dryer.)
A bit of this… a bit of that… a mention that they hoped to see
me in five years when we replaced it. (Yeah… the planned obsolescence
was being set at five years of service by the guys that were
bringing my old machine back to their truck. An old machine
that over its lifetime had been moved between four homes, in
two states, over roughly seventeen years. And this one that
had the ability to send a text was being given five years to
much of the general ideas within these two stories go back to
our opening concepts. Specifically, that technology is moving
in a way and at a pace that “…not only change the way we view
our world, they are changing the way we experience it, interact
with it, and navigate our lives because of it.”
ten to fifteen years ago the idea of our refrigerator getting
a computer virus seemed outrageous. Not so outrageous today.
supposed to be an environmentally conscious group these days.
Good people loving the planet. I’m having a bit of difficulty
with that when washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and basically
each and every appliance in our house is being built with its
replacement date a significant part of its design. Seems that
fridges having a lifespan at least a third of what they used to
have would add to the landfills.
maybe that’s too simple and naïve. I get it… recyclable parts
and such make that idea of trashing things more quickly a bit
of an unfair joke. That may be true. Still…
things really better? Is new honestly improved?
we want to consider the timing of our jumps onto the moving train…
we could look at cars. Because I think the same concept of whether
or not we are throwing out dryers more quickly can be offset by
noting that we seem to be holding on to our cars for longer than
ever. This item is leaving our house for the scrapyard sooner…
that one is staying with us longer… a bit of this opposed by a
bit of that.
in turn, would lead us to manufacturing costs, repair costs, back
into planned obsolescence thoughts… and you see the general idea.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
your fridge could have a computer virus.
other day, I got a call. Dad was having troubles with his printer,
and figured he might have reached a point where a new printer
was in order. His was so old that while checking a few things
he had been told that the company was literally selling the last
of their ink cartridge inventory in that style with no more being
made. His was so old that he had been told that the company was
no longer providing software updates for it. Yeah… it was time
to replace it.
he was narrowing down his choices, he found that the model he
wanted wasn’t being carried by a local store. He had three options
for getting it… (1) Drive an hour, there and back, to a different
store that did have it. (2) Order it at the local store and pick
it up there later in the week. (3) Go to the store’s web site,
which had a discount code available that allowed him to purchase
it for an extra 10% off the price options 1 and 2 offered, and
have it dropped off at his home with free shipping.
choice was fairly simple.
side note about printers. It’s almost cheaper to buy a new printer
than it is to replace the ink cartridges for it.
by funny, I mean sad. Since if you do your homework and catch
the sales right, it’s not almost cheaper to buy a new printer.
It is cheaper. We can discuss ink levels in starter cartridges
for as long as you want, the reality is some printer prices now
make it a verifiable fact. Cheaper to replace the whole thing.
will now pause for a moment as we return to that planned obsolescence
concept when it came to replacing your washing machine. We’ve
moved on from that swapping out an old machine for a new machine
idea. It’s no longer how often changes in household items are
taking place in what we might consider an even exchange, old for
new, service expectancy. In the printer world it actually has
reached a point where casting aside a perfectly good and working
machine is cheaper than buying the ink to use it. This is not
quite, but humorously close enough to make the joke, roughly the
equivalent of junking a fridge because you’re out of ice and the
delivery guys will fill the trays on the new one.)
we really moving into places where our actions are better and
smarter than yesterday’s? Are we collectively new and improved?
Or have we just managed to change the paint on our problems?
general answer would be yes… we are better and smarter… we are
new and improved… and in general we’re moving in brilliant and
interesting directions. But then I saw a funny joke yesterday…
heard the idea that vinyl records keep strengthening their comeback,
yes? The joke was that the reason that vinyl albums sound better
has nothing to do with the way the music is being delivered. It’s
not vinyl versus cassette versus compact disc versus 8-track and
so on. It’s because the music made forty and fifty years ago and
placed on vinyl is better music than what is being recorded today
and placed on a computer file.
before you go getting into some defensive stance on that… joke
people. Look behind it for where I’m going.
and of itself, technology can be wonderful. Advancements can be
steps forward. It can also be absolutely amazing to watch what
happens when it disappears.
been someplace when the power is knocked out for an extended period
of time? Hurricane hits… blizzards and freezing temperatures…
stuff like that, causing massive interruptions in electrical service.
power for recharging phones and tablets.
power to run WiFi options.
consider radios and batteries to be old school technology. Outdated.
Unnecessary. Pick up a streaming service… watch a movie or play
a game or be entertained on a mobile device… there’s an app for
can’t be just the technology. Part of it has to be the journey
to accomplish it. And if I’m standing in the middle of a store,
giving serious consideration… absolutely justified consideration…
to a decision involving buying four ink cartridges or a new printer
that will come with ink… we most certainly are the equivalent
of a deer standing in technology’s headlights.