Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Does Technology Weaken Everyday Real Life Experience?

Example no. 1 - The Grocery Store
The Giant grocery store near my house has a bunch of those automatic checkouts where you scan, and ring up all your own purchases and even bag your own stuff too. While Giant might be saving some money from these machines replacing people, I wonder why this is good? It's certainly not an improved experience for me as a shopper. Compare this with Eddie's around the corner where they unload your basket for you, ring you up with a smile, and will carry your bags out to your car. Hands down Eddie's wins more of my dollars just for better customer experience.

Here's the article inspiring this blog post:
Stores Count Seconds to Trim Labor Costs
I can't think of worse customer experience than this. Food is supposed to be a happy social experience. Why would any retailer actively destroy the fun already in shopping?

Example no. 2 - A Walk in the Park
Simple things have become overly complicated thanks to another kind of technology. The automobile has literally changed the landscape everywhere, in so many complicated ways, it has had a compounding negative effect on everybody's quality of life, and the environment. Just trying to get some exercise I need a car. Just trying to get some exercise I have to dodge some cars. Just trying to earn some money, I have to first spend a LOT of money to maintain that piece of technology that has been like cancer to the Earth. That landscape I mentioned used to be green and full of life, now it's coated with asphalt and concrete. Once roads are built they become a permanent part of the environment. People then accept more of it, even though we would all prefer to be living in a green park. I don't understand why cars and their detritus (roads) can't be thoughtfully planned AROUND human life instead of treading upon, and destroying it?

The Compounding Effect of Bad Experiences Means Life Sucks More for Everyone!
These are just a couple of examples of very common experiences that need a lot of improvement. Any piece of architecture, infrastructure, any consumer product or software ALWAYS needs to be carefully planned. What I think is shocking is how many people think these negative destructive systems are OK. Why is it OK to commute for two hours a day? Why is it OK to be robbed of sleep simply by using your cellphone too much? Why is it OK to rush little old ladies through grocery store lines? I for one simply refuse to accept these intrusions on quality of life as OK.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, something that's been on my mind as well. I'm actually going to do more research on it and write something. I noticed after moving away that a number of social norms in San Francisco are certainly not ok here. The level of personal obsession with technology gadgets and being networked is also far less prevalent. I find the people are friendlier and more community oriented. It could be any number of factors, but maybe it's because we're just talking with each other more. I'm a believer that we can't let technology intrude on what makes a fundamentally happy social interaction. I did the timing on the grocery store bit too, and it took more of my personal time to self serve. That's something I'm not giving away to save some corporation a buck. Plus, I don't want to take jobs away from people. I also went to a show in SF and a show here. People in SF spent more time documenting the show for later sharing than they did enjoying or dancing to the music. You're onto something. - T

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