posted by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on Tue 1st Sep 2009 01:11 UTC
IconWhile browsing the ever-wider world web today, I came across a story about IBM's patent of a sort of "Facebook Remote Control." It was appalling. Do we seriously need more single-purpose devices that will enable us to sit around more wasting more time than we already do? Does anyone really need to seclude themselves from the world even more to publish their lives on yet another teen-infested network? Must we really always be connected to the net? Read on for my ramble concerning a dark side of technology.

The Issue: Efficiency or Lethargy

There are two basic sides to this issue of the myriad of devices and applications in the common technological market today. They are efficiency and lethargy in a nutshell. Efficiency covers the devices and applications that help businesses and individuals to basically do things better and/or faster. This includes office programs, server technology, many communication platforms, and other useful stuff. Lethargy devices and applications, on the other hand, are usually targeted towards individuals and "helps" them to waste time and/or money and is sometimes disguised as an efficiency item. This includes entertainment, still many communication platforms, and other things-- often accessory to another greater item.

These sides aren't black and white, though; many gadgets and apps can arguably be placed in either category depending on a person's situation. What truly makes an item one of efficiency or lethargy is what a person chooses to do with it.

Let's take the iPhone for example. A very popular piece of equipment. Its initial design promotes both voice and text communication, and many I'm sure use its audio properties to "whistle while they work." Its constant Internet connectivity combines online applications such as email and other apps like Google Docs with mobility to make it a valuable asset to many business employees and even students. Individuals can use the iPhone's many features and thousands of downloadable apps for their own purposes. This is where it gets shady. When does a useful multi-purpose device like the iPhone or even your general desktop or laptop cross the border of efficaciousness into the dark and sticky realms of lethargy and nonproductive wasted life? Just think about that silently to yourself for now. Don't raise your hand just yet.

So, with all of the hot air of mine boiled out, there's an issue between people utilizing technology efficiently and people utilizing technology... stupidly. Also, despite people's choices on how to use what's given to them, there still are some "useful" devices and applications that are just really useless when it comes down to it. Can we all agree on those points?

Where IBM's Facebook Remote Control patent ties in is that it seems an awful lot like one of those "useful" devices that have no true use. If it's built and sold (it's not been confirmed whether IBM will actually build said device), it will enable TV-addicts to discuss "with one's friends the juicy bits of a favorite show or the latest television program" online, not necessarily just on Facebook, "without the viewer having to leave the broadcast receiver of the television." This is a device that looks efficient because "I simply have to talk to Dalayna next door about what House just did!" This is an example of when we allow an object of technology (television programs and the discussion of such) regulate what we have to do.

(More) of My Opinion on the Subject

In my very humble opinion, it's too much of a temptation to allow ourselves to let technology take the place of too many manual labors or fill up the time we should be using to make our lives full and rich with empty entertainment and too much connectivity. We don't need to be able to discuss the juicy details of the latest love fantasies from television with our friends the instant it's aired.

We don't even need the ability to turn up the volume without standing up. Remotes are a curse upon mankind; I already griped about this a while back on my old personal blog. Remotes, music players, smartphones, netbooks, Facebook, YouTube, and whatever else are all very nice and can be used in a good way, but how much do we really need? How "easy" does life need to be made?

The world as a whole needs to take a look at itself and see what's become of the human race. People are becoming addicted to technology that "just makes it easier." We need to watch out, or we'll eventually end up like the people from Wall-E and the kids who freak out about losing their WoW subscriptions. We need to have the individual responsibility to be able to determine when we're using our technology in an efficient, useful, positive way and when we're really just making excuses to waste time and get out of work we ought to be doing anyway.

How About You?

I've spouted off a whole lot of my own garbage, now, and it's not really important. What do you think about the rising issue of efficient/lethargic technology and how it's being abused by quite a lot of people of all ages? Or is it an issue? I'd like to know what it's like in other countries-- I've only been able to witness what it's like in the United States.

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