Ah, Technology

And people wonder why I have a love/hate relationship with technology. (And by “people wonder” I mean no one at all has ever asked me this, but I need some rhetorical construct to get this post going, so we’ll pretend there are people out there who actually devote brain cycles to trying to figure me out.)

Technology is great when it works, nearly debilitating when it does not. Take my mp3 player (please!). I like to listen to audio books on my commute. When the technology works I don’t have to worry about anything other than getting the headphones into my ears and turning on the player. It remembers where I left off and picks up from there.

Except when it doesn’t. Suddenly that little feature seems to have disappeared. The last several times I’ve turned on my player it seems to have forgotten I was even listening to an audio book and takes me to the middle of my menus structure. I have to find my way back into the right file (there are four for this particular book), then fast-forward to where I was. When I wasn’t aware there was going to be a problem this was difficult–I’d just have to aurally scan the book hoping to hear something that sounded recent. Now that I know there’s a problem I’m making it a point to remember the time-elapsed point before I shut it off. But scanning to a particular spot in a seven-hour file is still more time consuming than I like.

I encountered a similar problem with my ebook software on my laptop while reading my neice’s novel. I went back to check something in an early chapter and suddenly realized I didn’t know how to get back to where I’d left off. Fortunately I remembered what chapter I was on (luckily) and was able to get back relatively quickly.

In both cases, had I a physical book I could have found my spot instantly (bookmark), or even if I’d lost my place, I could still have found it within a few seconds.

Fortunately at this point in my life when technology fails it’s an inconvenience. Or, to quote one of my favorite lines from Jurassic Park, “Yes, John, but when Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down the pirates don’t eat the tourists.” There is very little of real importance that would be lost if my technology stopped working. No lives would be at stake, at the very least.

But this is also why I am highly reluctant to place my life too much in the hands of technology. I’ve spent too long in IT to trust the infalibility of IT departments. I’ve spent too long fighting my technology to want to depend on it too much. It’s convenient, certainly. It allows me to do some fairly amazing things, yes. But bet my life on it? I will not. At least not knowingly.

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