Life is becoming too inconveniently convenient

It seems the easier technology makes things for us, the more complicated our lives get.

Take word processing programs. In some ways they make it a lot easier to write, especially for longer pieces. Editing is now a breeze and my poor spelling skills aren’t as much of a handicap, but I miss the simplicity my pen afforded me.

Ten years ago, if inspiration hit, I simply grabbed the nearest pen and piece of paper and started jotting down notes. Now I have to wait five to 10 minutes while my computer boots up and I open a new file, and by then my inspiration has evaporated.

And, like a military strategist, I also have to make contingency plans in case something goes wrong. I know it’s only a matter of time before the blue screen of death strikes again. I have to set my auto save to kick-in every minute, do an initial save so that the auto save will work (a lesson learned the hard way) and occasionally make back-up files on another drive.

Things were a lot simpler when I put pen to paper.

Sure, my writing was sometimes illegible, even to myself, but the worst thing my pen ever did was run out of ink, or go missing in action, in which case I simply had to beg, borrow or steal another. The pages in which I’d painstakingly written out my thoughts never suddenly went blank.

Voice mail also has its drawbacks. Sure, people I’ve been trying to reach can now leave me a message letting me know how and when I can best get a hold of them, but they aren’t the only ones that leave me messages. It’s a free for all. And as much as the hundreds of e-mails I get every week prey on my mind, my voice mail is even worse. A quick glance at the first couple of lines or even the subject of my e-mail will tell me whether I need to read further, delete, forward or file it. But when it comes to voicemail, people tend to leave long, rambling messages that drone on and on, take forever to get to the point and even longer to get to the contact number. (I too, I must admit, am guilty of this.) And sometimes, in order to get all the pertinent information written down, I have to rewind and replay a message several times.

Worst of all, though, are those people that take the double-barrelled approach – those that phone to forewarn me they are sending an e-mail, or that call to ask whether I received their e-mail. This should become socially unacceptable behaviour, akin to following someone around, or leaving someone 20 messages.

I dread the day that all the appliances in my house become “smart.” What I fear is that at least a few of these up-and-coming smart devices will out-smart me. Remember the overly-sophisticated, none-too-convenient convenience of VCRs?

I’m also afraid of what’ll happen when these smart devices are out-smarted by viruses and worms. Sure, I might be able to look inside the fridge of the future without opening it, as one IBM prototype envisions, but I’m afraid the day will come when some virus will shut me out. I suppose I’ll have to make contingency plans for that too. I just love modern conveniences.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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