Too Much Free Time

by Brett

When Time-Saving Technology Ends Up Being A Huge Waste Of Time

from the one-step-back dept

Have you organized your booksmarks lately? Set up any macros for routine tasks? Figured out the programming bells and whistles on your all in one remote? Yeah, neither have we. Don't feel guilty, though. David Pogue at the NY Times talks about how the myriad of time-saving technology we're faced with these days can be a huge time suck. Whether it's your remote control, browser bookmarks, or perhaps contact management software, products and features designed to simplify things take so much time to program or maintain, that we don't even bother. We'd rather live with the imperfect use of these products, or no use at all, than grapple with the mundane or arcane requirements for optimizing the experience. As Pogue says, it's not our fault we can't keep up, it's the technology. Knowing that, at least we don't have to feel guilty about the time-wasting activities we really enjoy.

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  • identicon
    Scott, 10 Jun 2005 @ 5:24am

    releated fiction

    I recall reading a "thriller" a few years ago that had a similar theme; from a quick Amazon search, I believe it was Virus by Graham Watkins.

    There was a virus that needed to keep people in front of their computers so the computers would remain active. Overall the ending was kind of corny, but I remember the concept was interesting: disk defrags and reorganizing all the folders on you disk were really just a waste of time and electricity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2005 @ 7:01pm

    This is MUCH bigger

    MUCH BIGGER than simply enjoying the waste-of-time's we enjoy.
    You've hit on over-designed products and solutions which, while sounding logical, lead you straight to time-wasting hell.
    There are thousands of activities that we engage in because of the f* infrastructure of thought we've inherited from descartes..
    I think therefore I am -- that's what all these products say. Its the mark of time-wasting hell. Oh, these apps may be enjoyable, you may put them in front of some slave and feel good -- but these 'i'm smart, you must use me' solutions all frustrate for one reason or another.
    Even scripting to tie things together is a massive waste of time.
    A better paradigm is " I am therefore I think ". But as we can't model quality as well as we can model quantity, and never mind about the two together, we have an entire culture of people attracted by smart yet useless tweaks on things that ought to be rethought to begin with!
    Thus there's a meta to this game and it'll probably take some serious suffering on our part before we build products for people rather than perceived and manipulated needs.
    Search doesn't do it.. Ontology doesn't do it.. flat, two dimensional thinking doesn't do it.
    Subjectivity does it. But we don't respect it.
    If I use my machine for, oh, say, 20 different tasks and projects.. I can't just instantiate work-spaces and desktops and file-systems and relate my work through qualitative and quantitative indicators.. NO! I got to sort things into the machine's format because years ago it was easier to ship the messed up concept down to the idiot masses because it gave someone an advantage.
    That was fine when things were single use. They are not so now and the frustration we're all encountering ought to make someone else realize that we're building things for 'ideals' .. not people. needs, not requirements.
    This has to stop and it would be nice if you guys could introduce a perspective on the waste created by this systematic mis-match between product and use.
    But then again.. we don't have a unified means of modeling scalable user-interfaces and the roles we play with them either.
    Anyhow.. thanks for pointing to the problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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