Technology often makes work more difficult

The New Yorker , May 28, 2007 edition, discusses the impact of our new gadgets, our new technology.

“Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, allowing us to do things more quickly and efficiently. But too often it seems to make things harder, leaving us with fifty-button remote controls, digital cameras with hundreds of mysterious features and book-length manuals, and cars with dashboard systems worthy of the space shuttle. This spiral of complexity, often called ‘feature creep,’ costs consumers time, but it also costs businesses money.”

The engineers, according to the article’s writer, seem not to notice that more features make products less useful; and the sales departments merely see the new features as new selling points. “Often, the result is a product like Microsoft Word 2003, which has thirty-one toolbars and more than fifteen hundred commands.”

There is no easy solution to buyers wanting more bells and whistles but not using most of them because of “feature fatigue,” (the phenomenon of buying more than we can use). “In theory, the best strategy would be to make the complex simple, packaging all the power and the options consumers think they want into a design that they’ll find easy to use.”


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