Technology takes time, for humans



A few days after writing an article lambasting the Apple Watch and asking what exactly it does, I have been wearing it every day. I don’t know how it happened and what changed, but it would appear that just wearing it was enough for certain functions to get under my skin and make me miss them when they were not there. It reached the point where I felt that my Seiko was just telling the time and doing nothing else when worn.

This was obviously worrying and so I have tried to force myself to wear the Seiko each day, but I kind of miss some of the small things the Apple Watch does; the fitness tracking, funny news alerts from Quartz, notifications and the ability to respond so quickly to messages. Little things I can do on the phone, but which seem to fit the watch.

I don’t like smart watches for no other reason that I don’t want to like them, but there is a possibility that I could be turned every so easily given time and a new killer feature.

Anyway, that’s not the point of writing this. My Apple Watch experience made me realise that we as humans rarely adjust to new things instantly unless the experience is incredible. The first iPhone, first PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, iPod and some others make that incredible list, but for everything else it takes time.

This is why so many people, especially older generations, took so long to move to smartphones and the fact that the majority use them now is evidence that things just being there can make people try something new and that when they experience that new feeling over a long period, the feeling of it being necessary becomes valid.

I guess this explains why reviews of technology, particularly new genres, should be done over longer periods to offer a more accurate picture. When reviewers rush out to get a new product first, they are not offering a complete review, but merely a summing up of what it feels like to use when it is new in their minds.

How things work over time and how they integrate into your life is much more important and likely explains why so many products (that are great) fail. The people making new products have been using them for long periods and so it becomes easy to forget that they will be new to consumers. Some products mange that well (iPhone) whereas others (Apple Watch) need a lot longer to become necessary.

All I am saying is that maybe we should take longer to truly understand technology when we use it and that maybe we would adjust to quirks and not keep changing products time and time again through mere impatience. We humans are weird like that.

4 thoughts on “Technology takes time, for humans

  1. I’m in my early-40s. I’ve often wondered if we would end up better at accepting the pace of change of technology than previous generations, like rapid change was just part of the landscape we grew up with, or if we were more like previous generations… as Douglas Adams (awesome technophile and Apple fan) summarized:
    “I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
    1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
    2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
    3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

  2. Well yes, as we get older, we get more comfortable with our environment and are more resistant to change. But that’s the key word – change. Think about whether change is imposed or voluntary. We resent imposed change. As for voluntary change, there’s the type where someone shows you something and you have to decide whether you’ll change. Then there’s the type where you see something and have to decide whether you’ll change. Basically the same thing except for the “someone”. If someone shows you something, we often feel like it would be an imposed change because we’re doing something that someone else suggested.

    As we get older, our resistance to change is effectively the same as show me something that will be better than what I’ve got AND that’s worth the effort needed to make the change. Younger people don’t seem to worry as much about the effort to change. We more mature, cough cough, folks know how much effort it takes and may not want to invest that effort or time.

  3. There is also the challenge of being the early adopter. Sure the original iPhone was amazing, but it really wasn’t useful until the 3G. I still think the smart watch has to hammer out it raison d’etre. Then maybe we can beat ourselves up on how slow we are to pick up new technology.

    1. Not sure I agree that the first gen iPhone wasn’t useful! Sure, as a PDA it didn’t match the Palm (had to use notepad for ToDos), it’s camera was “emergency only”, its cellular data was slooooow, there was no copy/paste, putting you on a map was dependent on cell towers, the headphone jack sometimes needed dongles and the internal speakers were pathetic. Plus you were stuck with AT+T, in the USA. BUT – at a time when laptops weren’t ubiquitous, a pocket device that could brilliantly do the full web on wifi was amazing, especially with zooming and zippy scrolling. It being an iPod meant I had one less device to worry about. Visual voicemail was fantastic too. Its datebook and notepad and contacts were solid, I guess email was decent. ( were my original early adopter thoughts)

      My point is, a lot of devices early gen iterations show their value. My 2004 standalone Garmin GPS was clunky in a dozen ways, but changed my driving life for the better, reducing navigation stress tenfold (then again, that product might not have been quite first gen…)

      I guess you need a “killer app”, something you couldn’t do before — so for iPhone, I’d say it was “usable pocketable web access”, even if over wifi — even if the the real revolution is elsewhere and comes into its own later (i.e. the power of the flat black slab in the case of iPhone, vs the Apple Watch’s “power of having a small screen right there on your wrist at all times”)

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