Into the Digital World

Call me old fashioned, but I am completely happy without my pocket vibrating every time I receive an email. In the house I have been leasing for the past year, we have one channel on our TV (thanks to a random houseguest who wanted to spend a half hour to set it up). I never use a GPS in my car, I’m terrible about updating my status on Facebook and Twitter, and I’d rather carry around a paperback than read one on a screen. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against technology, I just haven’t caught up to the rapid digitalization¬ yet. My family and friends probably share the annoyance in always getting my voicemail and my delayed response to texts and phone calls, but at least I get back to them, right?

One thing I have noticed is my dependence on my laptop computer. I carry it around more often than I need to. I think this is partially the fault of the education system, thinking that students do or want to have access to computers all day. They turned to email and systems such as Blackboard under assumption that students will check every inch of these updates continuously for information they might need, and also under the assumption that professors will share that the information is actually on Blackboard. As simple as this seems, there always seems to be miscommunication. On the other hand, the positive implications of using the internet to mass distribute information to 20,000 plus college students—besides a saving a significant amount of paper—is just that, mass distribution.

On a non-academic point, since my housemates and I decided cable isn’t worth paying for this year, I turn to my laptop for entertainment. My dad kindly shared his Netflix password with me and now I can stream movies and TV shows when I have time to watch them. I use my laptop as a form of TV, a music player, a news source, a notebook, a storage device; the list could go on and on. And I start to wonder, how is my reliance on my computer different than someone’s on their Blackberry? It isn’t really. One can be stuffed into your pocket and the other cannot.

Technology should be designed to fit what people need and/or want. Maybe I prefer my laptop because I can actively design it (to an extent). I have some imagined control over what I want to focus on, whether I change settings, add and delete software, control email notifications, etc. Also, nothing is interrupting me—no unexpected ringing, no television on in the background every night, no automated voice informing me for five straight minutes that I need to turn somewhere up the road.

If interactive technology were designed so the consumer could control and customize it, and mass digitalization did not mean miscommunication, maybe the transition into the digital world would be easier for people like me. I might even start answering my phone.