New/More Tech Isn’t Always Best

I have subscribed to The Christian Science Monitor for something like fifteen years, but when my current subscription expires, I won’t be renewing it. That’s not because I don’t like the content; I do. It’s simply because the Monitor is going largely online. One of the virtues of the Monitor was that I could read it away from the computer. The same is true of most of my periodicals. If I have to read material online, all that does is reduce the computer time available to write… and that costs me time and money. For several years now, the Wall Street Journal has been pressing me to pay extra to get their online issue in addition to the print issue. I wouldn’t take the online edition, even if it were free. Ah… say the techno-gurus, you should get a Blackberry or I-phone. Why? So I can spend more money looking at a smaller screen carrying around a gadget that I don’t need.

I have to admit that I’m not a technophile. Neither am I a technophobe. I do have an office full of equipment, and I’ve had a cell phone for years, but I only use or carry it when I’m traveling away from my home town. It’s not necessary otherwise, and, as more and more recent studies show, using one inappropriately, as when driving or at the controls of a train, can be exceedingly dangerous. And for that matter, even the simplest phone has far too many bells and whistles. Mine is the simplest offered by my wireless carrier, with no picture/camera features, and it still takes almost fifteen minutes just to scan through all the options and features offered, but it’s so badly designed that about half the time when I open it to receive a call, I end up turning on the speaker and broadcasting the caller to anyone nearby… yet the procedure for turning off the speaker is anything but easy.

For me, technology is technology. Useful technological developments allow me to maximize time usage and productivity, but loads of additional gadgets and features waste time, add to the costs, and complicate the procedure for using the device. I trend to get horribly irritated when a tech company loads up a useful product with all sorts of non-useful add-ons. For example, I need a good color copier, for a number of reasons, but I can’t get just a copier that is relatively high speed, has high quality, reduces/enlarges, collates, and is moderately priced. At least, I can’t find one in Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, HP, Epson, etc. No, I have to purchase a copier that is a combination scanner, fax machine, printer, and duplicator — and none of the extra features are ever used. I don’t want, nor do I need, a multi-function machine, but that’s what I end up paying for. As a one person office, I want a separate printer that serves my computers, a separate fax machine, and a separate copier — that way, as it happens often enough, one task isn’t delayed because everything would hit the super-duper multifunction machine at the same time. Also, there’s the issue of reliability. The more gadget functions there are on a machine, the more likely something is to go wrong… and sooner, rather than later, sooner being roughly one month after the warranty expires. And, with separate machines, if one crashes, usually late at night, the others still work.

So what’s wrong with wanting products that do what I need, rather than having to purchase equipment that does what the technogeeks think is so wonderful? Am I so unusual? Or doesn’t anyone else want to say anything about this form of technological pollution?