Journey to a sustainable future

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Musings on Technology, part 1

I am reading a book by Sara Donati that takes place in 1800.  In the first part of the story, Elizabeth's husband Nathaniel has to leave her and their infant twins to go to Montreal to rescue his cousin and father.  He is projected to return home in  4- 6 weeks, depending on the weather.  When they don't hear a word from him in 8 weeks, Elizabeth takes matters into her own hands and goes to Montreal to see what happened.

The whole time I was reading this portion of the saga, I kept thinking to myself "Good grief, if they only a cell phone!  Or email!  Or telegraph!  Heck, the pony express would be fantastic right about now!"

But it made me think a little this case, knowing if your husband even made it to Montreal without being attached by marauding bears or a cougar would vastly improve your quality of life.  It would legitimately make you happier.  I certainly enjoy the fact that Steve can call me from work and say, "Hey, something came up, but I should be home for dinner."  I then do not spend the next 3 hours fighting back images of him dying in a fiery airplane crash. 

So many times, though, technology does not actually improve our quality of life.  And when it does--let's say that having a computer with email capability legitimately makes you happier--then why do we think that we need faster/bigger/better/smaller/smarter version?  If your true happiness lies in emailing people to stay in contact with them more easily, then do you really need a machine that will connect you to the Internet in 2.3 seconds rather than 5?  Will getting a monitor with a larger screen be the key to your sense of fulfillment in life?  If the computer breaks, can you bear to part with it for a week, or less, while it is getting fixed, or must you have a new one THIS INSTANT because to go without Internet capability for even a few hours is an insurmountable obstacle?

Along these lines...check out this youtube video:

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