Thursday, May 22, 2014

'Over dependence' on technology

When the news is filled as it currently is with news of a data compromise at eBay, it is quite common to hear people say things like "this is what happens when we are over-dependent on technology."

They say the same things when the link to an online learning resource won't work, or people lose their connection to a webinar. Isn't it terrible? We're so dependent on technology, and everything grinds to a halt when it lets us down.

But let's just stop a moment before we all get hysterical about technology being to blame for all that goes wrong in the world. Our lives are filled with technology that we don't even refer to by that name any more. Your cooker is technology. Your pen is technology. Your car is technology. Your old manual typewriter (supposing you have one) is technology. They've just been around so long that you don't think of them as such any more.

When your cooker stops working, you don't curse your over-dependence on gas/electricity to provide food for your family. When your car breaks down, you don't make a blanket statement about how we should have stuck with horses.

Did you once use overhead projectors? Did the bulb sometimes go when you were right in the middle of a class/workshop/presentation? Should we have reverted back to the days before OHPs were invented? Nah, you just came up with an alternative and moved on. Because you're resourceful like that.

The thing that has happened at eBay is serious. It could be more serious than they're letting on. But the dust will probably settle and people will go back to business as usual.

Mistakes and challenges have always been a part of life and always will be. The technologies that we curse when things go wrong were developed in the first place to address some other problem. Before we had online learning, distance learning had to involve large quantities of printed materials being sent hither and yon, which was costly on so many levels. Before we had distance learning, people had to travel somewhere to participate in a learning event, which was ditto, and disruptive to boot.

So the next time you lose connection to your online learning event (which might happen to me within the next half an hour as I try to log in to a webinar with a splendiferous thunderstorm doing its thang overhead), take a breath and try again. The world hasn't come to an end, and it's probably no more of an inconvenience than when the assignment you submitted by mail didn't reach its destination by deadline date, or your car broke down on the way to a residential course.

And, just to keep your sense of humour intact, the next time the water is cut off to your home while they work on the pipes somewhere in your neighbourhood, say out loud to yourself, "This is what happens when we become too dependent on running water!" Because taps (faucets) are technology too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog post. I agree totally that people oftentimes overlook what "technology" fully entails. I saw similar sentiments expressed in this blog post where the author made the point that most people now think of technology solely in relation to smartphones/tablets etc, and criticize others on their over-reliance on them versus looking at all the benefits