Hi, tech people.
I know we haven’t always gotten along; what, you with your cool and lavish employability and me with my carefully refined snark, but I’m glad you’re still reading. Or can read.
Just kidding! Some writer humor.
Please don’t feed me to your computer-box.
Some of my best friends are in tech, at start-ups or established companies, or making apps, or…doing whatever it is that you people do. I’ve asked them some of these questions, but I thought I’d approach a broader audience.
And, if you think these sorts of insights are pertinent or clever, feel free to hire me.
1. Why Does It Matter?
I know in the broad, hypothetical sense why it matters, but what about the actual practicalities of it?
Yes, technology can do amazing things. But how many billions need to be spent innovating the cell phone?
I have an iPhone 4. It is mightier than anything I would ever need, and I barely use 10% of what it’s made for. I text, call, and occasionally Google with it. I religiously use social media apps, Google Maps, and…there’s not even a third thing there for me to round out the list with.
The iPhone 4 is good enough, and I’m not using it even close to capacity.
So why are we stuck on phones? Why are we refining the same when we could be innovating?
2. Where Are The Practical Things?
So much of what I see is meaningless or confusing. Things are gamified, paradigms are shifted, millions invested, and life goes on.
But where can the technical and the physical meet? Where are the apps and inventions that sync with the practical and real to enhance and improve people and lives?
You know what’s cool? The flashlight on my phone. I love that. How about a bottle opener? Or a built in scale for weighing things (drugs) that people might want checked, balancing the pressure on the screen as weight?
I don’t know if that’s practical or possible, but that’s the tilt I’d like to see. Give me that before I see another ninety-nine cent app of a different tower defense game.
3. Why Are Worthless Things Worth Millions?
From my limited understanding, it seems that some iPhone games and apps breed companies and speculators are eager to find the next.
Is this technology the future or is some of this growth due to an unsustainable, frenzied bubble? Are speculators gamblers or visionaries?
In this modern gold rush, how much is really gold?
I don’t know from technology — hence me lumping everything in a hand-waving “technology” bracket — but the outside perception is warped by mingled emotions and logical confusion.
First, the emotions: I am jealous of your success and jobs. In a recession, people who know how computers work seem to be flourishing in the sort of job scenarios impossible for people like me. It can make a guy feel some type of way, and in that frustration and envy comes increased scrutiny to something that’s already confusing, fast, and poorly explained.
The confusion is in the magical minting that technology seems to provide.
How are all these free things making money? Snapchat is worth billions? Okay, fine, data, ubiquity; but the speculative environment, combined with the fame of windfalls gives an illusion of ease to the outside world.
There’s a lot that’s hazy about tech fortunes. That’s not a knock in and of itself- the stock market is similarly confusing, paper money is based on a shared illusion, etc- but it’s also unfair to act like it makes perfect sense. I’m not stupid, and something seems to be working- and working frantically, city-and-world warpingly fast- and I’m wondering how sustainable that is.
4. What About Non-Tech People In Tech’s Life?
I sometimes worry that tech forgets about idiots like me, because idiots like me aren’t invited to talk to tech people or tech companies, and we’re not cool or innovative or understand how apps work.
But we’re a large market.
Parents are often idiots like me. Idiots like me forget our Apple Password for months at a time, don’t update our IOS or even know what that stands for or why we should change it. And you shouldn’t have to cater to idiots like me. Even as I whine, I get that. But knowledge is like a pyramid; the broader and stronger you make the base, the higher you can climb.
How about a push towards communication between spheres? Somewhere between marketing and diplomacy, there’s a niche.
5. What Are The Coolest Things I’m Missing Or Misunderstanding?
This article is skewed by the limits of my perception.
What don’t I know about? How am I unfair or sweepingly ignorant? If possible, err on the side of the upbeat, the cool and exciting.
I know it’s out there. I just don’t know where.