Monday, March 26, 2012

Technology users need to be more accepting of change

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Of all people, technology users -- those who immerse themselves in technology for pleasure, hobby or as a career -- need to be more adaptable to technology change. You would think after years of breakneck develop that most would understand this message, but every day I am confronted with those who seem to miss the point.

It distresses me to see otherwise intelligent people complaining about this or that feature that has been changed or added -- or even worse, removed -- from the software or hardware they use. If it can be said of anything, change is a constant when dealing with any technology. Computers change by leaps and bounds. Software moves from feature to feature with changed in the user interface from version to version. Change is going to happen whether you like it or not, so you need to develop a strategy for dealing with it.

"If it can be said of anything, change is a constant when dealing with any technology."

It is fine to complain about a particular change -- debate its usefulness or functionality --  but such complaints often become a call for no change at all. It seems we want things to remain just as they are. What would our world look like if this was truly the case. Without change we would still be using the command line or --heaven forbid -- punch cards to do our computer. Heck, home computing itself might never have been invented. We would be stagnant, less productive and less accomplished in nearly all parts of our lives. Change is good, even if it is a bit disruptive.

As a technologist -- even a rapidly aging one at that -- I embrace change. I find it invigorating and exciting to see what we can accomplish with our technologies. You might even say I love change, even if it does make my life a bit more difficult at times. The alternative -- no change at all -- is uninspiring, unwelcome and unlikely. We can only live in the present we are given, no matter how much we might want to go backwards to some idealized time. No one is going to un-invent the Internet, the computer or that stupid ribbon that Microsoft seems so keen on using. For the most part you have to simply deal with it.

That said, fight for what you want in or out of your technology. Make a good case for why XYZ features don't make sense or how they could be better implemented. Stop using (and paying for software) that no longer fits your needs, even mourn the end of a favorite web site or app, but don't think that you can roll back the clock or halt change in its march. That is folly. Your only hope is to meet change head on, climb aboard and prepare for wild ride.

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