Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Technology Travails

Wikipedia.org the online encyclopedia describes "Technology" which is derived from the Greek "Technologia" as the making, usage and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, craft, systems or methods of organisation in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function.

The Oxford English Dictionary describes "Travail" simply as a painful or laborious effort. 

Man & Technology were born Siamese Twins and shared the same liver, lungs, brain and the heart. You disassociate  the both and you are endangering their very existence. 

The Old Testament of the King James Bible says that God created man in his own image and Man discovered technology to justify his creation and uphold his evergreen supremacy over God's other "lesser" creations. 

The oldest history lesson we are tutored in Macaulay's educational institution are the tortuous yet adventurous lives of our neanderthal ancestors. Yes! I am talking about the greatest & most significant technological breakthroughs of all times. The Invention of the wheel, fire and metallurgy. 


What happened over the next million or so years is very well articulated in reams and reams of history books gathering dust in museums of natural history across this great planet. 

Man's progress in the technology domain has been laudable and his insatiable thirst for change has even put him on the moon and that much closer to the one God that created him. 

However that area in space & beyond is best reserved for the water cooler & conference room discussions of those nerdy NASA & ISRO scientists. 

Technology has been so finely woven in our fabric of life that one cannot step out fully dressed by washing it away. 

Technology is man's emancipation and he is an abomination without it. Such is the ecstasy of technology that makes an octogenarian man of science run amok the market streets unabashedly butt naked (remember our very own Archemedes of the Eureka! Eureka! fame). 

After taking pains through these strange jibber jabber of words, one might be wondering the relevance of this post's title. How can I talk about travails when all I sound like is one big sycophant of technology. 

This post has got to do with the labour of pain people around me undergo while trying to get familiar with today's popular technology that has been unleashed in the public domain. Yeah! this post is about the mortifying acts of men & women in their eternal quest to befriend this amazing wonder. 

To warm you guys up, a video to watch. 

If you are a child of the early 80s, then you are truly blessed by the God of Technology. I can very easily vouch for my own statement that none of the guys of this era have it difficult around technology. It is our father's generation that equates successfully operating a modern day PC with Climbing the Nanga Parbat from the Chinese side!

Technology has yielded countless side effects that have permanently altered man's interface with society. His societal norms have deteriorated to a total lack of social involvement. You pay all your electricity, phone, property, insurance bills online through credit cards. You pay your credit card bills through bank transfers. You pray to God through Online prayer sites. You consult your doctors through a 24 x 7 friendly call center. You easily disclose your most private details to an IVR machine. You prefer the ATM over a human teller. 

When many may argue about its positive attributes where you save precious time to do things more useful, I hold my right to counter opinion. I miss those days when you accidentally met your old friend or neighbour while waiting in queue to pay your bills or in the bank for obvious cash related issues. Surely, half an hour of social time would not make your life more miserable than it already is (My dad would be cussing me after reading this, cos he believes that his son hardly ever stood in a queue for paying up bills). Well Dad! I am speaking more generically. 

An I Mac in the geriatrics ward is synonymous with the boogie man in a child's bed room. Its a damn nightmare! I just cannot fathom the lingering doses of fright one sees in the former's eyes when asked to send an email or log in for a video chat. The computer is like that scary Rottweiler from the Omen series, the very thought of the task petrifies the poor old chaps and one often needs to shake them out of their hellish stupor to save them all the trouble!

Dads and Moms spend a jolly good part of their time "mastering" the art of text messaging from your friendly mobile phone and just when they go hand in hand in their imaginary merry go around - candy floss world, some sinister minded techie releases a new mobile phone with supposedly "advanced" features where you can send the same text messages over a QWERTY keypad. My dad may kick start a fierce argument saying that QWERTY keypads were introduced as early as the early 19th century and we are still using it almost in its original form. He thinks he has had the last laugh and then some tech genius decides to do away with the conventional keypads altogether. Welcome to the touch world! 

With its password & patter locks, its countless apps and extremely anti middle age and upwards mentality the new age "smart" phones were successful in creating a great divide between the old and the not so old. It is sacrilegious to even try and attempt using the smart phone if you are over 40 years of age. 

"Do not touch the screen!!! you will destroy it and I will lose my cyber life if you press the wrong icon" shouted the school bus hopping teenager to her mommy who tried to Nancy Drew her daughter's mysterious life in cyber space. The daughter is a cyber citizen and is out of bounds for the lowly citizen of the normal world! All this over an expensive looking third generation 4" Amoled display capacitive touch screen manufactured by a very popular company that specializes in 'I' gadgets. 

Or take the latest fad! SLR (Scalable Liner Recording). Hell! on first look even I found it hard to understand the logic behind the sudden uprising of the sleeping photographers all over the world. It has features just packed into them that one needs to attend photography school to do it justice of purchase. 

Flickr.com is seeing an upsurge in the number of photographs uploaded by countless amateur photographers (mostly techies snapping away on their onsite tours and weekend escapades to nature parks) of buildings, wild beasts, exotic birds. Then I realised the "Cool Quotient" one strives to build up on by investing in these exorbitantly priced cameras. A small percentage does pursue serious photography to keep their passion alive. But the majority with a conformist attitude succumbs to peer pressure. 

These technological marvels gather dust as decorative mantel pieces because their masters have too little time to employ them. It becomes part of their owners prestigious asset inventory to show off during a relative's kids birthday party or during a family outing at Pizza Hut!

No wonder the favourite technologies of the yester - years are still the most convenient to handle. Remember the good old 8 tracks, the 2 in 1s, the walkmans (walkmen?), the weapon like fixed line telephone sets, the bulky on board switch controlled CRT televisions, the stick shift automobiles (still in vogue). 

This has just been a reminiscing of sorts and I do not intend to downplay the giant strides taken by technology power houses in the fields of mass communication, telecommunication and mass transportation. I also do not pretend to be part of the new hip and cool generation that is so much comfortable with technological intrusions in their lives. 

 I certainly do not mean any disrespect to my father's generation since it is the necessities that were born out of their travails that we are witnessing such advancement in technology. They are not only our fathers and grand fathers but they are the fathers & grand fathers of today's technology. 

Writing this post has made me realise one important aspect to life. Our fathers kept in abeyance such technological wonders to ensure a great life for us. Take time to help them understand what you already have. Technology is a dynamic word as it is ever evolving. Its success lies in its most fruitful utilisation by one and all. 

Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them
- Steve Jobs

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