When Using Technology: Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

Atualizado: 17 de Out de 2019

Have you ever felt angry with your computer? Have you ever ended up on the wrong place after following directions given by your GPS? Do you remember the last time you had to share information with an audience, and your presentation would not display correctly on the room's projector? If you affirmatively shook your head to any of these questions, you may have been a victim of technology. Yes, it is irrefutable that modern solutions to our every-day woes are great when they work as they should, but also our dependency on them makes it hard for us when they do not work as expected. How come they fail so often? And what can we do to prepare for these situations?


Possible Reasons


First, were are going to analyze the possible reasons that could explain such epic moments.


Complexity


Technology is the use of the luminosity of the mind to craft solutions. A typical example would be using a stick to feed on termites, which is known as termite fishing. In this case, crafting a simple tool solved the problem of how to capture food, making it a simple solution with a highly effective and efficient outcome.


The bricks used to create contemporary tech are increasingly becoming more complex. Behind each project, you can find dozens of solutions that are supposed to work together to solve a set of small problems — most of them created by architecture restraints and conceptual limitations of computer language — to come up with an outcome. This nano-like ecosystem operates under the laws of physics and math and relates to a vast number of variables.



Escalators are a good example of well designed tech. Even when they stop working they still work as stairs.

Communication Flaws


There are three channels of communication used by humans: audible, visual, and tactile. Each channel is subject to many levels of communication failure, regarding lost of information and noise. Communication issues can lead to several problems, including improper use that leads to wrong or unsatisfying results. The more features embedded into a solution, the more complex the communication becomes. Get a piece of furniture as an example. A poorly written instructions manual will most definitely make you waste many hours to assemble it in place then a well-designed one.


Quality (Lack of)


The crazy race towards higher profits and lower production costs has produced some unbelievably low-quality solutions. Usually, everything is wrong about them: design, interface, materials, functionality, durability, support, product info, etc.. They will cause you problems, so - despite the appealing prices - stay away from them. Remember that creating a reasonable product takes time and money. If you believe in a state-of-the-art speaker that costs as much as a banana, you are only fooling yourself.


The amount of effort and time necessary to coordinate QA tests is proportional to the amount of complexity and communication included in the project. Add to this the fact that companies are doubling down on how fast they can release their projects into the market and in some cases adding planned obsolescence, and you will get the perfect scenario for disaster.


How to Stay Safe (Without Becoming a Caveman)


There are two ways of reducing the risk related to technological outages. First, it is crucial to have the best possible solution available around you. In our global economy, you can access a wide variety of players offering everything from excellent, top-notch products and services to options with at least questionable quality. Do the best you can to become an expert on the problem you are having and think about what your expectations would be for a solution. After figuring that out, go after the experts and early adopters of technology. Read the most reviews of the products or services you believe could help you and do not forget to analyze feedback from users and clients. I would also highly recommended applying this scoring method for Amber Case's Calm Technology Checklist that will give you a sense of how calm a product or service is. Secondly, do not be afraid to create your own rough, old fashioned and ridiculously simple plan B that - might not be that easy or fast - but also solves the problem for you. For instance, if you live in a cold mountainous area, install the best heating tech you can afford in your home. But never go thru winter without kindling and wood to start your fireplace, so that you will have a plan B in case you get stuck in a blizzard with no power.


Creating this mindset is not a demonstration of weakness but a manifestation of intelligence and connection to reality.


So, the next time you are leaving for a highway adventure and do not want to risk on getting lost, do not forget to take that old rusty, no-one-cares-about-anymore map with you.


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