I’m going to start this with something controversial, I do hope the following statement doesn’t shock you, so please take a moment to prepare yourself.
OK? All set? Maybe a few deep breaths first.
OK, here it is.
My new PC is fast, shiny and does lots and lots and lots of things.
Phew, that was something, wasn’t it! WOW! Everyone still with me? I realise that must have been a bit of a jolt. OK, some more deep breaths, calm calm.
[What IS all this nonsense? Get on with it! Ed]
OK, I wanna take about how my use of technology is getting simpler. Coming from a self-confessed gadget-freak, that statement wouldn’t even have been contemplated a few years ago, let alone typed, checked, edited and published!
Of course, technically speaking, it’s the software that helps me do all those lots and lots and lots of things. Over the years, and with much experimentation, I’ve slowly found good workable solutions for all my ‘tech’ needs. So much so that, increasingly, or rather DEcreasingly, I no longer spend much time searching for new applications that will help me do new ‘stuff’ on my PC preferring to, you know, actually getting things done.
I realise it’s not much of a revelation to most, if any, but it marks a change in my mindset and I thought I’d mark such a momentous occasion (for my mind is like an giant oil tanker, it takes several miles to slow down, let alone turn in another direction) by delving a little deeper. Yeah yeah, I know…
This ‘new’ way of viewing my PC means I no longer need to fight around the technological barriers I used to place in my own way. I used to download and experiment with a lot of software, trying different types of graphics apps, different email apps, browsers, 3rd party add-ons and so on and on and on.
But no longer! I’ve slimmed down (my PC), gone lean and mean and I’ve slowly begun to realise that, subconsciously, this is something that I’ve already started doing with my other ‘gadgets’.
We used to rent our TV and DVD recorder. I’ve not yet replaced the DVD recorder and, you know what, I’m not missing it. I used to record and burn a couple of movies a week, but I’ve not missed that and don’t think I will. Simple.
Sky+ has replaced our video recorder removing any of the “how do you program the video” issues from my life. I just select a program from the planner and press the record button. Simple.
Similarly, I find that I’m not using my new mobile phone for much more than phone calls and text messages (sorry txt msgs). This, in part, in because the phone itself isn’t as functionality complete as my old phone so I’m just not using the same set of features. Yet the thing is, I’m not missing anything and it’s liberating to NOT be able to check my email at a moment’s notice. The way I use my mobile phone is regressing back to being, largely, just a phone. However that’s more the technology forcing me to make specific decisions so isn’t quite the same. But it’s similar. Simple-ish.
What else? Ohh yes. I have an ageing PS2, and was all set to invest in an XBox 360. Why? Because it was new and ‘better’. However, two evenings playing on my nephews Nintendo Wii have completed changed my point of view, and further evenings since have only helped to cement my thoughts. I don’t spend hours and hours playing games, I don’t play strategy games or anything particularly complex that requires a large investment of time. I like games I can pick up and play, and largely stick to sports or beat ’em ups. Truth be told I only really play Pro Evolution Soccer but as I’ve been playing that for many many years I don’t have to learn any new controls so it’s the ultimate pick up and play. I need gaming to be something quick, instant, pick up and play, so the Wii is EXACTLY a match to my gaming needs. Turn it on, pick up the controller, play. Simple.
Finally my favourite gadget, which is and remains, my iPod Nano. I don’t have a video iPod and don’t see me ever getting one now as I have no need for it nor for anything that holds all my music. Frankly the wealth of choice would kill me, and I’d rather not spend hours deciding what to listen to… it’s bad enough already! In fact, since buying Louise a Shuffle for Xmas I’ve been toying with ‘downgrading’ to one of those, as it’s certainly ideal for most situations.
The impact my iPod has had on my life is fairly substantial when you consider the fact that our next car, whenever we change it, MUST have some way of plugging in an iPod/MP3 player and if it doesn’t, I ain’t buying it. Simple.
The Nano has enough functions to satisfy my needs, but not so many that it becomes over-laden with a myriad of options. In fact I’m beginning to wonder if my move away from my previous “early adopter” “techno-lust” can be traced back to my first iPod as, increasingly, I find myself preferring the simple over the complex. The one function app over the multi-function suite of products.
For example, I hardly ever use PhotoShop to edit photos these days as, for most of my everyday needs, the tools built into Picasa do a good enough job. I rip CDs to MP3 because it’s convenient, even though I know it’s not the best format.
Two ideas that go hand in hand and seem easily achievable but, as evidenced by the overly complex and cluttered products I’ve fought with in the past, are not that easy to attain. How many simple and easy products (hardware, software or services) do YOU use everyday?
I guess this is one reason why Apple is doing so well as they make ‘simple’, look easy. They move the ‘good enough’ far enough along the acceptance scale that it seems like ‘better than average’ (which, in my opinion, is the REALLY clever bit).
So, whilst I will never lose my admiration of gadgets and technology, I think I’ve reached the point where I am viewing things as they should be, from a slight remove with a questioning eye. Software and gadgets CAN be complicated and confusing, even for the most technical users, but they don’t need to be, they SHOULDN’T be, they don’t have to be, but so many of them are.
As technology continues to evolve I guess the question to keep in mind is this; which would you rather worry more about, what you CAN do, or what you WANT to do?