Saturday, March 19, 2011

Technology: Good or Bad?

by KJ Howe

I've been reading lately about technology--robots, the future of the internet, smart appliances, and more. The advances are fascinating, and they may add to our lives. Who wouldn't want to have a friendly robot who vacuums and does housework? Wouldn't it be great to preheat your oven from work, so you're all set to cook dinner when you arrive home? These are the wonderful pros of technology, designing items to make life easier for us.

But what about the cons of technology? The fact that our cars can't be fixed by the corner mechanic because of all the computerization, that kids spend less time outdoors being physically active because of the TV, video games, and social networking on the computer, that if we lose power, we can't do many of our daily tasks, that you can be reached wherever you go if you bring along your smartphone.

I'd love to hear how you feel about technology and its impact on your life. Do you love it or do you long for simpler days? If you could un-invent one item, what would it be? Is there a gizmo you can't live without? Please share your thoughts about technology. The topic fascinates me!


flchen1 said...

Ooh, technology is always such a mixed bag! I confess that I tend to be a slow adopter, but then once I'm on board, I love it. My husband tends to be a early adopter, and then I'm forced along for the ride. He dragged us kicking and screaming into the digital camera era, TiVo, and so on... I do admit I love both those now. I still don't have a smartphone though, and I think I can continue to live without it. I'm not sure offhand what technology I would uninvent... I'll get back to you on that!

Anna Campbell said...

Fedora, he's back with this old squeeze!

What an interesting post, Kim. I'm definitely not a technology hound - witness that I'm yet to learn how to text and I was dragged kicking and screaming to get a mobile phone - but some of it I would definitely miss. I love being able to email with my friends from all over the world. I love being able to listen to any music I want any time.

Sheree said...

I still grumble at opening the internet to everyone, leading to all sorts of spam (no, I'm not interested in meeting Russian women!). Back in the day, only universities and large corporations had email, IM, and such. And who could forget Zork?

Of course, I stopped having a personal music gadget since the Discman (mine still works) so no iPod here. I also don't have any sort of game console, Xbox or Nintendo or anything like that. I do have a cellphone but not a smartphone. I'm just a tech grinch. *grumble, grumble*

Kim in Hawaii said...

Aloha! Just returned from Kauai - one of the Hawaiian islands that probably lags in creature comforts (although the bigger resorts offer cable and internet).

And Kauai is home of THOUSAND OF PROUD ROOSTERS ... I think they are the Pacific cousins of the GR. They strut around everywhere seeking admiration and food from the tourists.

June M. said...

I love some technology--especially the internet, LOL. I love my digital camera, mp3 player, etc but do not go crazy for smart phones or anything, half the time I misplace my cell anyway. I would love a robot to do housework though, that would be great!

Deb said...

Technology does have its mixed blessings, doesn't it? I panic if I forget my cell phone, miss checking in at the Lair or FB on my computer, and like watching a show on t.v. that I can rewind if I miss what was said. I have a feeling, though, that cell phones in the near future will be (more) complex and a person won't be able to buy a simple-call-or-text phone much longer if wanted.

I remember my first cell phone from 25 years ago. What a laugh! It was huge and heavy and didn't even fit into my purse. It was a reassurance for when driving in case something happened. Now I use my cell as an alarm clock and to keep connected with everyone via texts and calls.

Helen said...

Well done Fedora have fun with him


I have such problems with technology LOL if my kids aren't around to help me I am usually lost.

Some of the things they are inventing are awesome but I do think that people are losing the touch with hands on things and kids getting out and running around a soccer field or something

Have Fun

KJ Howe said...

Congrats, Flchen1! Have fun with the GR today. At least he isn't a robot. LOL

KJ Howe said...

Flchen1, thanks for sharing your thoughts. It's fun to live with an early adopter because you get to learn about the new tech, and then decide if it is for you.

KJ Howe said...

Hi Anna,

Music and email--two of my favorite things as well! I still like low-tech forms of communication, like post cards, and one is coming your way soon.

KJ Howe said...

Sheree, you are hilarious. Not interested in Russian women--the spammers should do better to at least approach guys, huh?

KJ Howe said...

Kim and Hawaii,

I would love to visit Kauai! And now that I know there are a thousand roosters, I'm booking the trip! :)

KJ Howe said...

June M, I find it interesting that it seems that people are slowest to adopt smartphones over other tech tools. Any thoughts as to why?

KJ Howe said...

Deb, you're so right about the phones getting quite complicated. They have fun tools, but the instruction manual is the size of a phone book!

KJ Howe said...

Helen, your fears are also mine. I want kids to be outside playing, enjoying the fresh air, and exercising. These gizmos tend to make kids less active, and that's a downside.

Anna Sugden said...

How funny, KJ - you read my mind this morning! I love technology and find it useful ... when it works! When it goes wrong, it's a complete PITA!

I'm not an early adopter, but I do tend to get on-board quite quickly after that, if it interests me. While I have a cell phone, it's never really interested me as much as iPods or digital camera which I took up quite early, or the iPad (where I deliberately waited for 2nd generation!).

I haven't got into anything like Wii or X-Box or any of the game consoles though I think they're fun. I'd either spend way too much time on them or wouldn't spend enough to make it worthwhile. As a computer game junkie, especially adventure games, I know I can be distracted *g*.

I also love, dishwashers, washing machines (yes, I remember the old twin tubs), tumble dryers etc. All those things which make life easier. I'd love a robot housekeeper, like on the Jetsons!

I don't know that there's anything I'd like to uninvent - but I sometimes wish the pace of technology wasn't so fast that everything you buy is almost out of date by the time you get it home!

KJ Howe said...

Anna, great point about technology moving so fast. There are a group of people who put themselves into debt trying to keep up with the latest thing. Leasing might be a better bet if you like to change it up???

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Sigh. Techonolgy.

While I love having the computer and the internet, (I wouldn't have bonded with all the Bandits and our buddies without it), I do hate one aspect of technology.

Cell phones.

Yes, they're fantastic if you're waiting for a child to go into labor or keep track of things while you're not at home. But I have a husband who will wake me up if mine is beeping a missed call because it's bugging him. (I sleep days, I miss calls, the phone is in another room for a reason!!)

And with smartphones, (which I may be getting soon), people are on them ALL the time. In the middle of a conversation their phone buzzes and they're no longer talking/listening because they're scrolling to see what someone texted or what e-mail popped up!! GRRR

Oh and then there are the people who sit right next to each other texting....ARGH!!!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I had a smart phone and spent days trying to find one that wasn't smarter than me! I traded down because I don't really need to connect to the internet while driving down the road! (Back to our pet peeves topic). Though the phone I now have connects to the internet I don't use that option. I text only under duress (the only way my daughter seems to be able to communicate), I am very slow since I traded to a phone without the keyboard.

One piece of technology I would not want to lose is the Kindle, my only complaint is it is too, too easy to by books! It take a great deal of willpower not to bankrupt myself.

EilisFlynn said...

I just sold a book in which modern technology is the evil of a portion of society! ("Mod tech" is a common epithet.)

catslady said...

Definitely love/hate relationship with technology. The young can master the new fangled gadgets so easily and not so much myself lol. I wish I had had a digital camera when my children were young or a video camera. I love my microwave lol. And of course there's this thing called a computer that saps all my time. Cell phones are wonderful sometimes but just as interferring other times. Well, there is no sense lementing because it's going to happen with or without my cooperation lol.

Slush said...

KJ, great topic/post. My friend and I were just talking about technology the other day.

I feel that advances are a boon and burden. You have to make good choices with the technological advances that you choose to indulge in. Video games, like the Wii. I can endorse because you can be active with games like bowling or tennis. MP3 players the same thing. My kids and I spend many a night parading the living room and getting exercise to tunes!

Other things like my wonderful steam floor cleaner (steam cleans with tap water) save me money and keep harmful chemicals out of my house.

Plus, social networking capabilities of the internet provide the opportunity to get to know wonderful authors like you and the other Banditas from the comfort of my office. Not possible 6 years ago.

I wouldn't wish to un-invent anything, but I do wish we didn't produce more than what we need or be so anxious to put out an ipad2 when the first one works just fine.

Slush said...

Congrats Fedora. The chook was a little upset with me. He lost a couple feathers in the cleaning.

KJ Howe said...

Suz, you are so right!!! I'm not a fan of cell phones in restaurants and other public places. It can be very disruptive. Sometimes, it's sad that people don't have more face-to-face time instead of texting. It's important to stretch those social skills.

KJ Howe said...

Dianna, I have an ipad and, boy, is it ever easy to drop money with a buy here and a buy there. I had to set a budget for myself! I hear you!

KJ Howe said...

Ellis, that sounds like a powerful antagonist. Who can beat emotion, unlike humans. Sounds fascinating.

KJ Howe said...

Catslady, I like your open attitude towards technology. It's definitely going to roll along whether we like it or not. I try to stay current, but I'm no techie, that's for sure!

KJ Howe said...

Slush, great points. Any idea what the differences are between the first and second ipad? I know the newest one is lighter...

Gillian Layne said...

I think technology helps as a whole, but I hate how stupid I feel with much of it. I often say I need a three month sabbatical from work just to learn all the ins and outs of what my computer can do.

Technology is doing amazing things for my students who cannot talk. Do you know all the apps that can be downloaded now for Ipads and Ipods? Well, I didn't until about a month ago, but what I'm learning now is so wonderful. If we can just keep the price point down, this technology will benefit those who really need it.

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, KJ,

Honey is a tech expert & I definitely
am not! I love my digital camera and
know enough about my computer to blog,
write and print. Honey had to give me
a cell phone for Christmas 2009 because
I wouldn't get one! I really needed a
replacement for my pokey-slow computer
but again wouldn't get one. Honey came
home with a laptop for me in January
because of my resistance. I absolutely
hate any kind of change, so Honey just
sneaks in any new additions he wants
to add to our systems!

Pat Cochran

Sheree said...

I suppose if we all have to use computers and be on the internet, I do like how programs have enabled the computer to be more intuitive and easier to use. I once impressed my boyfriend when, in the midst of some strange problem with Windows, I was actually successful in retrieving old DOS commands from my brain (had to look at them stupid .bat files). On the whole, I don't mind replacing the bit of my brain devoted to DOS commands (lpr anyone?) with some more useful knowledge (the names of more hot cover models maybe?).

KJ Howe said...

Gillian, thanks for sharing your insight into how technology helps some of your students. I was involved in a charity dealing with people who were physically disabled, and I was amazed at what computers could do for them. Their lives improved greatly when they felt connected to others via the computer.

KJ Howe said...

Pat, Honey sounds like a great guy! You're very lucky to have someone who senses your needs before you even identify them. He's a keeper. :)

KJ Howe said...

Sheree, I like your new focus--forget the code, go for the cover models!

jo robertson said...

Fascinating topic, KJ! I'm so ambivalent about technology. On the one hand I love all the amazing things I can do so quickly -- the main one being my writing -- but sometimes I long for a disconnect from all this speed and tension and interaction with people.

I just want to crawl into a corner and read. But then, of course, I want to read on my Kindle LOL.

jo robertson said...

Hmmm, I'm not sure there's anything I'd UNinvent, but I do wish the ethical issues had been addressed before we moved so quickly into the internet age. It seems to have taken us by surprise.

Louisa Cornell said...

Congrats, Fedora! He always comes back to you!

Technology is definitely a double-edged sword. And I think the problem with it is that we often implement new technology simply because we can without thinking of the consequences or down side to that implementation.

Technology has also made us a society of instant gratification. People have no patience. Woman called at 8 AM today and wanted a very complicated take for which we ask 48 hours notice and she wanted it at Noon today. When I tried to explain she said "Well, I looked it up on the internet. It doesn't look that complicated and I promised my daughter this cake for her birthday." Really? And you just thought to order it this morning?

They say technology makes us smarter, but if technology does everything for us, how does that make us smarter?

We are now the most obese and least literate and science smart country on earth. How'd that happen?

I love the internet because it helps me to stay in touch with the Banditas and Buddies and all of my other friends. I love the research I can do, but I love research books too. I love my laptop because it makes working on my books easier. BUT! If I had to I could write a very entertaining letter to communicate with my friends. And I wrote my first book longhand.

I guess I just want us to use technology, but not to become slaves to it.

sweetlife said...

I must admit I'm a technology whore, if anything new is released with extra features, I'm running to the store like obsessed. But I do agree that technology also makes people lazy since it usually gets invented to make things easier.

Nice blog btw!