Technology 1

To technology. I am more like the Sutherlands. I grew up in a household where in the end my mother fixed more than my father, a practicality rather than a statement of feminism. I was bookish but worse I was bookishly arrogant and fixing things was not for me. My brother became more of a fixit, and that made my churlish arrogance worse – I was a bully and all should be mine, terrible childish attitude. Once I became older I fixed more but this grew out of patience and a focus on the need for something to be fixed. In Pirsig’s criticism of those who cannot zen motorcycle maintenance he appears not to recognise that there is a physical ability – not just lazy intellectual rejection.

But when young that’s all it was to me – I was lazy, the intellectual relative success at school came easy to me, and fixing a bicycle was hard – and it hurt. It hurt because I hated it. I hated it because things should work – and even if it was a puncture it should work. When it didn’t work I had to fix it but I didn’t want to – it was hard and it should work. So childish but true.

Technology should work, why should we need to fix it? That was my childish approach, and I have lost it now. Why? Because technology doesn’t work. I buy a computer, and I’m lucky if there isn’t a physical problem. I will talk about Thailand because I live there but I lived in the UK until I was 42 – I am now 64. I was a teacher, and on several occasions I have taught computing; I know them a bit. They don’t work. Windows doesn’t always work. I buy a laptop and have a notional lifespan of 3 years, after that I expect to have problems – and I expect to have problems when I buy it. Technology has problems.

I have a view on this; I cannot substantiate it so it is only a view. There is a built-in obsolescence, they are designed to fail. Computer history has an interesting slant. It is something like this – I am not sure of my accuracy so it is only an opinion. Computers were expensive, and they made a profit from them. As computers took over the machine manufacturers were looking for profits and couldn’t find any. In stepped the spoilt brats and Microsoft and Apple made all the profits from software, Honeywell and IBM kind of disappeared – at least diminished. There were no ongoing profits in machines.

There are no ongoing profits for cars and motor-bikes. If you build a car well it lasts how long …. 10 years? A good motor-bike that is well maintained – the same? But they have made these machines fashion items, and if they are fashion they change – profit. Computers are not fashion items so to make a profit from machines they had to be built badly, hence my 3-year laptop obsolescence notion. It could be they cut corners reducing the cost making the machines cheaper and then you buy again. They tried computer fashion, well they have computer fashion with games. How shameful. They change computer technology so the kids’ games look better – but I am old hat games are not just kids. Game players need to update their systems so they can play the latest games – profit.

And then smartphones. There is some kind of rush when a new model i-phone becomes available – fashion – profit.

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