Does smart technology make you feel like an idiot? Me too!

Why is it getting harder and harder to use our stuff?

I thought technology was or should be designed to serve us. Make life easier, and that as the technology evolved it would become smart enough to figure out what we're trying to do and accomplish the task at hand. But that rarely seems to be the case; you buy a cell phone, and it comes with a 150 page owner's manual. That's why John Tierney's "Why Nobody Likes a Smart Machine" piece in yesterday's New York Times struck a chord with me.

I guess it has something to do with the manufacturers loading on way too many features to sell product, but that too often creates a maze of ergonomic hurdles to just get the damned thing to work. Alarm clocks used to be simple to use devices, but my current one was a huge hassle just to learn how to set the his-and-her alarms. Most of today's A/V receivers are so feature laden they're a pain to use. The 'Time article's conclusion neatly sums up the problem, "Most of our technological difficulties come from the way we interact with our machines and with other people. The technology part of the problem is usually pretty simple. The people part is complicated."

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.


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