Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stating the Obvious: We've Lost Our Way

Computers are supposed to do one thing, technically - one thing well, at any rate: make things easier to accomplish. This is especially true of complicated and/or repetitious tasks. However, they really aren't being used for this because our focus has shifted from using computers to make doing things easier to computers and computer technology, themselves.

Sadly (and ironically), part of the reason for this is because Microsoft has continued to push inferior product; Windows users spend as much, if not more, time learning, tweaking, and repairing their computers as they do anything else! I'm not being facetious; I wish I were being facetious! Fucking Windows 98 froze during the press conference at which Bill Gates introduced it! It's been all downhill since then...

Okay, now that was facetious. Win98 was not a bad OS - in fact, it was pretty darned good (I'm using it right now!) - and XP was downright decent. I stayed away from Vista for over a year after it was released, until I purchased a new computer (on which it was pre-installed, as those with XP pre-installations had been pulled from shelves). The point being that I knew from literally everything released between Win98 and XP to wait until the bugs were ironed-out when it comes to Windows.

Of course, Microsoft keeps running through OS in attempts to make them stronger and more efficient - so they perform better when running programs and routines designed to make you, and/or your business, more efficient! The irony being that we are so busy upgrading, installing, and learning new features to actually get anything done! The fact that we wind-up spending as much time trying to make the damned things work - finding and installing the correct drivers and software, ad nauseam - as doing anything else is simply a slap in the face.

And these companies have moved away from business and general management, anyway; these days, personal computers (including Macs) are designed to be all-in-one entertainment centers, not... computers! The software firms have decided "personal" computers should be exactly that, and "business" computers are a separate thing. Except that they are also busy pumping-out actual entertainment units (game cubes), meaning they are marginalizing business technology - in an effort to secure higher revenue, of course. Vista came in about five different "flavors," and a damned fax program was only included in the "Business" editions!

Personal computers never really became the home business machine they were originally conceived to be. We can argue that Microsoft directly did that with the Win95 OS and advertising campaign, but who did it or how it came about is moot; the point is that computers are not only no longer thought of as management tools, they are no longer designed to be! And that's where the problem lies: Listening to music and watching movies on my computer are great options, but the reason I bought a computer instead of an entertainment cube is because I need to be able to send a fax!

The other major reason this has become an issue is simple naivety: Too many people are afraid that computers will replace people if they are designed to handle business tasks, and/or personal and business management, effectively. Of course, the entire point of using computers for these tasks is to free-up the time of the human(s) who would otherwise be doing them. Technically speaking, said people are supposed to have other skills and talents which would forward the company/project - if only they had time to introduce, hone, and exercise them. So, the computer should be balancing the accounts and overseeing payroll while the personnel manager is recruiting, reviewing, and inspiring.

As always, we've decided to allow the LCD (lowest common denominator) to control the situation; instead of raising the expectations of computer users and operators, we've changed the model to appeal to anyone who draws breath. Instead of employing computers to handle the shit jobs and hiring creative types who would now have time to be creative, we're designing computers to make slack-jawed pedestrians feel creative and hiring them to handle the computers!

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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