Growing up I dealt with some pretty bad technology. I remember the days of dial up internet, when you could make a cup of tea in the time it took you to connect, and if anyone picked up the phone to make a call it would immediately disconnect you.
But this was not the worst of digital technology.
I remember the days of the blue screen of death, days where you seemed to live in constant fear of your computer crashing and your work being lost. These were also the days where whole assignments could be lost because you forgot to press the save button. But this was not the worst of digital technology either. The worst of digital technology is amongst us right now.
This type of technology was hard to use but at least it was useful. When technology was hard to use we at least had the sense to avoid it unless we absolutely needed it. We got away with only one computer because the chance of everyone in the household wanting to use it at the same time was fairly limited.
The worst of technology is not hard and useful, the worst of technology is easy and useless. This is the technology that distracts us, that sucks our time away when it could be spent on something more valuable. It is Candy Crush Saga and Words With Friends (sorry Mum and Dad). OK, sometimes you could mount an argument about downtime and relaxation but the reality is that some of these games being considered more addictive than crack. They suck up hours of our life and our hard earned dollars for little if any long term meaningful reward.
And they eat up a LOT of hours. The average user has played about 8 hours of Candy Crush Saga and even if this is multiplied by just the 93 million active users this equates to 85,000 years of wasted, meaningless existence.This is the worst of digital technology and it is getting worse. Poker machine manufacturers such as Australia’s Aristocrat Leisure are now investing in social gaming and applying their extensive know-how of hooking poker players to social games on your mobile device and on Facebook.
Thankfully there is now growing push to apply the same ease of use and reward systems that make this technology so bad for the pursuit of meaningful and valuable work. Todoist uses ‘task karma’ to reward you for managing your tasks, your Klout score measures the strength of your social connections and Fitbit uses badges and rewards in their platform to encourage a healthy
lifestyle. This is the best of digital technology. Making meaningful outcomes easier and more enjoyable to achieve. How much of your time is spent using the best of technology and how much time is spent using the worst?