Opinion: The Shifting Objectives of Technological Progression as a Result of Mass Consumerism

The mentality that drives the human race:

Progressing at the fastest possible rate in the easiest possible way; I like to think of it as electrons in a conductor always taking the path of least resistance. This post aims to examine the relationship and balance between these two factors, focusing on technology.

The somewhat harsh truth (that making life easier is such an important factor) is often hard for most people to accept - they will often argue against it under the pretense of not being lazy people before driving home in their car, having their supermarket bought dinner, filling the dishwasher, sitting in front of the TV for a few hours and then going to sleep on their mass produced bed.

It’s therefore a logical assumption that the human race would want to apply this mentality to our technology, and we clearly do. There was a time when nobody could care less how hard a piece of technology was to use, because it was so amazing that you even had it in the first place. However, getting so comfortable with technology has caused an overwhelming shift in the focus of direction that consumer tech has been taking over the last 10 years. It has not been solely in the stand alone advancements as you might think, but to make things easier for the user. This fits in extremely well with the philosophy of the average person:

‘I want to reap all the rewards of a skill without any of the effort’. Let’s be honest, if everyone could upload a skill to their brains in an instant (à la Matrix) in a safe manner, then they clearly would.

Point and shoot cameras allowed middle aged women to take somewhat acceptable photographs without actually knowing anything about photography, whilst similar technology in the form of mobile phone cameras allowed teenage girls to flood the world with slightly blurry mirror selfies. Music quality took a hit so that thousands of songs could be stored on a single device and the best selling listening hardware moved towards earphones as portability and ease of use became more important to the average user than quality and experience.

Don’t get me wrong, improvements in ease of use are clearly generally a good thing, I just never want that to be the overriding focal point. My main issue is that people who could never be bothered to learn how to do something when it was more difficult, can now do so extremely easily. In theory this should seen as a good thing but leads to a trend of extremely low quality output in what is ultimately produced, meaning it gets harder and harder to locate something that is genuinely of high merit.

Let’s switch the focus back from ease of use to progression. Disagree? Let the comment duel commence…