Five Technology Lessons


Five Lessons About Technology

Above all, remember: It’s not about the technology, it’s all about you.


Jim Thomas

One lesson I have learned about technology is that you should never make predictions. “It is doubtful the average consumer will ever need 250MB of memory,” I once read in a guide to purchasing computers. I have made equally embarrassing predictions about electronic typewriters and video cassette recorders.

A second lesson is that technologies evolve: Through time, devices get more powerful, work faster, become smaller and cost less. Of course, not all technologies survive. And if you ask which ones these are, I refer you to lesson one above.

The good, the bad, the glasses

Lesson three is that while we often think of specific technologies in black and white terms — it is either good or bad for us — gray areas abound. For example, the U.K. government is taking steps to ban drivers from wearing Google Glass, the glasses with the computer attached. WebMD and other sources warn of possible distraction, eye-strain and headaches when using the device. But optometry student Elyse Kleifgen used Google Glass to video conference with her instructor about patient care for a patient she was seeing at that very moment (see page 10). Stanford physician Abraham Verghese, M.D., used Google Glass to create instructional videos. The good or bad, as shown throughout this issue of OM, depends on your application. As Scot Morris, O.D., says on page 2, technology only “magnifies what we do well and what we must improve.” It’s not about the technology, it’s about you.

Lesson four: When it comes to technology, the simplest issues can confound me. Once, an entire IT staff tried for an hour to understand why my computer had abruptly frozen. No one noticed the culprit — my notebook was pressing against one of the keys on the keyboard.

Cut the wires (and the wireless)

Lesson five, as editor Jen Kirby reminds me as we work full-speed-ahead to complete this issue of OM, is the value of “shutting off.” Author and CEO Baratunde Thurston, who tweets 32 times a day (the tip of his digital iceberg), went on an “Internet vacation” for 25 days, he writes in the latest issue of Fast Company. Allow time away from the “hunt for constant digital connection,” for “other, deeper connections,” he says.

If a total vacation seems to extreme, start slow. “Unplug” at family meals or on a Saturday afternoon. You might start now: That “ping” that just announced a new e-mail, text or tweet — ignore it, and continue reading. OM