Technology forgets the needs of the 99%
I apologize for sounding like a cranky old man. But i will go full Andy rooney and complain about gadgets and technology which, as well-meaning as they are, seem to forget ordinary people.
It’s cranky that I ask: who is technology for? Technology is no longer just for nerds, but companies often act like they are.
Amazon and Apple entered a argument a few weeks ago on “lossless” audio files. I didn’t know what they were either. These are high quality digital songs that most people cannot distinguish from regular versions. Likewise, the latest smartphone software features It sounds smart, but I wonder how many people will take advantage of it and tailor iMessage notifications to their boss. One of Apple’s latest features is aimed at around 18 people who want use the same keyboard to control an iPad and a Mac at the same time.
Please don’t yell at me! I know some people care passionately about things like this, and it makes sense for tech companies to respond to it. Companies are also constantly improving their products in ways that are relevant to both the tech-savvy 1% and everyone else.
But I can’t help but think that it would be better for tech companies and us if they focused more of their marketing energy and strength on what matters to the 99% of people who use technology.
Smartphones are one of the most popular products ever made. What do a lot of people want from their phones? A cool look, simplicity, longer battery life, reduced costs for the device and Internet browsing, and better resistance to our clumsiness.
But the hot selling point for smartphones in the United States has been their ability to connect to 5G cellular internet networks, which most Americans cannot access and maybe not need at all for a long time.
When Apple devotes all of its TV commercials to getting its phones flushed down the toilet, then you’ll know the industry is thinking about the 99%. (Yes, I know many phones have been made more water resistant, including bathroom dips.)
I loved this list of The Verge in 2019 of all the things the tech industry assumes everyone knows, but not most humans. Normal people don’t know how Facebook ads are targeted at them, why Bluetooth is so fluffy (or what Bluetooth is), or if they need to buy extra storage space on their phones while Apple keeps harassing them.
“It’s a crucial reminder of an important fact that I think the entire tech industry is constantly forgetting,” Nilay Patel wrote in this 2019 article. “Most people have no idea how everything is done. actually works and are already hopelessly confused by the technology they have. “
Most people don’t have the time and intellectual space to worry about anything other than the basics of using their phone, computer, TV, or other essentials apps and apps. And this is perfectly normal and normal. What’s wrong is that the biggest and wealthiest companies on the planet often fail to meet these needs.
Tech companies should continue to offer cutting edge advancements. But the balance seems out of balance between what’s new and what most people really need.
Tech companies should also stop pretending that normal humans will dig into complex privacy controls. Could mean baby monitors shouldn’t come with passwords that criminals can easily find online, and Amazon shouldn’t automatically turn people’s household gadgets into a shared internet network.
I don’t have a simple solution. Maybe tech companies should hire standards people to make sure gadgets, apps, and software are needed and usable for the 99%.
It really is difficult to make things easier and meet the needs of millions or billions of people. The first step is to remember that technology is meant to be for everyone.