cult and paste

be careful where you clique

Technology: solving an old problem by creating new ones

Jared Diamond writes a lot about the double edged sword of technology. An innovation allows a society to expand in a certain way. This expansion goes on for a while and then creates a new set of problems that may, in time, overwhelm the society and… the civilization fades out.

Behind every technology lies an inherent philosophy in it’s design- intended or unintended. Some of these philosophies can lock us into a set way of thinking. Look at the interstate in America. It reinforced the automotive society- with all sorts of trickle down effects. It was expensive and once the country invested, it’s been difficult to switch.

And that brings us to the internet- the biggest, most successful machine ever constructed; a technology that seems to level the playing field.

Consider the trends and adaptations that we’ve made to it. There are users, abusers and site providers all working on different angles.  Problems arise- Security, Privacy. Big sites want all your info, playing off a business model that offers surveillance without protection. The users say “so it goes” and give in.

Meanwhile all the clicks and usernames get stored. New technology arises to deal with the side effects- semantic analyzers, larger processing facilities, user-friendly questionnaires are constructed to evaluate the online versions of us…. All in all, the consolidation of the internet is turning out to be much more difficult than it was for other forms off media- like television.

And for the moment, that’s a good thing, because streamlining the windows of the world would make new ideas all the more rare. Design by committee tends to mediocrity when compared with design from the individual.


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This entry was posted on February 20, 2010 by in Nature, Technology and tagged .
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