The Problem with Easy Technology by Tim Wu (The New Yorker)

The project of self-evolution demands an understanding of humanity’s relationship with tools, which is mysterious and defining. Some scientists, like the archaeologist Timothy Taylor, believe that our biological evolution was shaped by the tools our ancestors chose aeons ago. Anecdotally, when people describe what matters to them, second only to human relationships is usually the mastery of some demanding tool. Playing the guitar, fishing, golfing, rock-climbing, sculpting and painting all demand mastery of stubborn tools that often fail to do what we want. Perhaps the key to these and other demanding technologies is that they constantly require new learning. The brain is stimulated and forced to change. Conversely, when things are too easy, as a species we may become like unchallenged schoolchildren, sullen and perpetually dissatisfied.

This is what American big tech could be working on instead of “how to increase advertising revenue by data-mining personal information”.

Why bad technology dominates our lives, according to Don Norman (amp.fastcompany.com)

Just think about your life today, obeying the dictates of technology–waking up to alarm clocks (even if disguised as music or news); spending hours every day fixing, patching, rebooting, inventing work-arounds; answering the constant barrage of emails, tweets, text messages, and instant this and that; being fearful of falling for some new scam or phishing attack; constantly upgrading everything; and having to remember an unwieldly number of passwords and personal inane questions for security, such as the name of your least-liked friend in fourth grade. We are serving the wrong masters.

 

We need to switch from a technology-centric view of the world to a people-centric one. We should start with people’s abilities and create technology that enhances people’s capabilities: Why are we doing it backwards?