But I still can’t program my VCR!

It should be relatively apparent at this stage (assuming of course you have read any of my previous posts) that I am interested in the philosophy and ethics of computing. Even more than that I am interested in the usability and benefit of computing.

I should be clear about this. I design software systems, have spent a number of years working with software, and have to admit to being a closet geek (not a geek about closets). But technology vaguely worries me. We spend an inordinate amount of time and energy developing out systems to make us better, more efficient, smarter, more informed, richer or more entertained. And then we tell people that it will make their lives better, more efficient, smarter, more informed, richer and more entertained. Yes, you’ll have to learn completely new ways of doing things, but the advatages are clear.

Now I personally believe the computing industry is incredibly immature (not necessarily the people in the industry). So it stands to reason we will build some systems that have a benefit, but lots that don’t. And as we mature the software will get, hopefully, better and more targetted to end users. Now I think we are beyond the "test pilot" phase where we strap people in, tell them to press the big red button, but only when we are safely behind the screen, and then say opps! when things go wrong. But how much further beyond?

Actually I think it all comes down to expectations. This new shiny system I want you to use will make things a little better. Some things will be annoying, but bear with it, because it’s going to get a lot better. I promise!!

But until that happens, can someone please come round and program my VCR??

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1 Response to “But I still can’t program my VCR!”


  1. 1 Steve Hart May 16, 2007 at 3:02 am

    I think what you are mostly saying is that failed software/technology systems is a people problem not a tool problem. As you know, of the vast number of failed software systems, a vast percentage of those fail because of people problems.

    You need to power on your VCR first before you can program it.


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