Anyone who’s anyone has interacted with technology at some level – from the high school teacher starting her car with her automatic car starter to the Harvard computer programmer learning 6 programming languages at the same time, there exists some form of interaction. With interaction, comes varying levels of interest in technology – some are passionate while others are apathetic while even others claim that they don’t understand technology in the least.
How do you respond to new technology?
How open are you to changes in technology?
How well do you understand technology?
Are you willing to learn?
Everyone will respond to each of these questions differently. Here, I’ll attempt to uncover 5 things that, once understood, will set a new precedent for how technology is understood, perceived, and approached.
1. It ain’t goin’ anywhere
In fact, if anything, it’s going to be continuously more and more integrated. While the expression of it will change, the fact remains – technology is fixed in our lives today, and that’s not going to change. What used to be 5 devices are now consolidated into one device that fits in the palm of your hand, and the experience from device to device is far more consistent than each phone’s separate menus and settings. Now it’s just a question of capabilities.
Technology moves forward with two goals in mind: convenience and simplicity. There are entire career (called User Experience Developers) dedicated to counting the number of interactions someone has with a product or device and making sure that every major function of it is easily accessible. The majority of changes we see in software (think Windows versions, new websites, and new features) are built completely around these premises. When you find that something is very easy to access or harder to access, it’s based on all users of that product identifying the most important features in one way or another, and those things being accessible via changes in design, layout, or functionality.
2. Prices will change in a very predictable way
A man named Gordon E. Moore identified a trend in 1965, now called Moore’s law. Moore’s law states that “the number of transistors in a device double approximates once every 18 months.” What the hell does that mean, really, and how does it affect you?
Simply put – the number of transistors (the electrical gnomes that make your computer compute) in a device is directly proportional to its speed, performance, and capabilities. This is why, in less than a year, your brand new MacBook or Lian Li computer is either discontinued or significantly cheaper than it used to be. Up until recently, this was a very predictable model – every 18 months prices would be cut in half. We all know this, though, so this is no big surprise. Why is this such a big deal?
The big deal is the answer to the question “How does this affect me,” and the answer is simple: in every way possible.
3. It changes how we perceive the world
Think about it – not even a century ago, it was acceptable for a communique to take weeks or even a month to arrive at its destination. Now, people get frustrated, scared, or upset if they don’t receive a response from their loved one within the hour. Technology has increased communications, and, despite the fact that it’s increasingly more complex, talks to satellites, and connects us with more people than ever before, we continue to expect more from it.
This relationship of expectation as a result of new technology isn’t just with text messaging or Facebook, though. Watch your local computer geek get frustrated by an internet page taking too long to load or a computer freezing. What other aspects of their life do you think mirror this behavior? How do they respond if someone in their life slows them down from doing what’s on their mind? Do you think that the majority of people in the world have become more rushed and time-conscious because they can get what they want faster (ex: Amazon Prime) and therefore expect the same from all service providers?
4. You have control
Overall, our standards have risen in direct proportion to the performance of the devices we use, and the performance, features, and design of the devices we use is driven by how we use them. You choose the future of technology with every button press.
Think about cellphones – at one point, they were all different – a new cellphone was an entirely new experience. We judged cellphone by the manufacturers because every menu was different, every brand had different features, and every single new phone had a learning curve. The desire in the back of everyone’s mind was “I wish there was a more convenient way.”
Then came iPhone. Then came Android, and now the phone market is saturated with different options – Windows Phone, iOS, Android, and more. Now, people judge their devices not by their manufacturer, but they their experience.
Since then, there have been multiple iterations of the these devices, and with each iteration things have become more and more intuitive and responsive to the desires of the users of the previous version. And it’s happening much faster than 18 months. Last years model is, in essence, last year’s preferences, designs, and mindsets.
As technology presents us with options, and as we bumble around looking for how to do certain things, we are inadvertently giving the developers of that technology information that helps them redesign the software, features, and designs. What if you could know exactly where to go and how to change what you want to change?
5. Anyone can learn it
Technology follows a few basic and predictable ways of use – there’s always the simple way of doing things, and a way to access more options. Technology is evolving to a point where there is more and more intuition – the question of “how do I use it” is being demystified, and your instincts can be trusted. If you approach tech with an intuitive mind and the question “how can I view more options” followed quickly by “how can I make it easier and how much work will it take” you’re likely to uncover not only the full capabilities of your device, but be able to predict the next change that will come.
A good example of this is left-clicking vs right-clicking. Left-clicking is the fast way to interact, and right clicking provides you with more options. On phones, it’s short press (tap) vs long press (press and hold). With this context alone, you now know where to look for more options when using your device. If you can’t find what you want by doing that – check the menu – on mac it’s at the top of the screen, on PC it’ll generally be at the top of each application. This provides even more options.
Of course – how they’re arranged and organized goes back to the topics of design, features, and layout, and now you know that you have control over that. 🙂
In future posts, we’ll go into more depth using various forms of media to demonstrate these principles in more detail. What apps would you like to see us demonstrate? How well have these tips served you this far?