It’s interesting when technologies change.
In the context of work, I support lots of instructors who become used to using specific tools for lecture capture, screen capture, content creation, presentation and other purposes. On the home front, I love my Apple products, and use them all the time to stay in touch with friends family, and even to work art, music and other projects.
A question came up with a coworker the other day, that is: How do we perceive changes in technology? and as an extension, how do we perceive technology in the first place?
For anyone who supports or even uses technology heavily, when changes come for some, it’s like the sky has fallen. Nothing will ever be the same again.
When Facebook changes a menu item, all I see for days is how stupid the change is, or how much better it was before the change.
When a contract with a software company expires to be replaced with another, the reactions we get range from elation for the new product, to melancholy and anger that the old ways have gone, never to return.
The most interesting reaction is the “This product is not another product” reaction.
Many users, when faced with a tool they haven’t used before seem to immediately lump it into the category of another tool that they are familiar with.
Let’s take Facebook messaging, for example. I’ve heard people commenting “there’s no reply button. There’s no forward option. Can I subscribe to message lists?”
All of these comments assume that Facebook Messaging is email. It is not. And it shouldn’t be.
When people start to using Google Presentations for the first time. “Where’s the star wipe?”. Google Presentations is not PowerPoint.
I found myself falling into this pattern a few weeks ago, when I started using an app called Sketch — a quick, awesome, and easy to use graphic design app that I now use daily for asset creation in my iOS and web design work. When I first launched it, I began to look for layers, the toolbar with all my brushes and marquees and arrows. I found them eventually, but they ‘looked wrong’ and were ‘in the wrong place’. In my mind I was lumping Sketch into Photoshop. They do a similar thing, so they MUST operate the same right? Wrong. Sketch is not Photoshop, and once my brain accepted it, I spent a few days with it, practicing, learning and now I can get things done much quicker in Sketch that I ever could in Photoshop.
This idea extends to hardware as well. “The new [phone] is [wider/longer/a different color]. I don’t like it”
At a time when technology changes so rapidly, an important aspect of competence with software and hardware is to be able to adapt and understand that new technologies are not all terrible, they are just different. Every tool has a purpose, and just because we’re not familiar with its new purpose or more efficient way of dealing with a problem, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. Sometimes newer technologies are making your life easier and giving you entirely new ways of working or playing and its important to be aware that change is not a bad thing.
At some point in our lives, some of us lose the ability we had as children to roll with the punches, to explore and to be happy with what we have.
If we all are willing to explore, play, and engage with these new technologies while at the same time being patient with ourselves, and our coworkers, then these transitions won’t be as painful. Hell, they might even be fun and open us up to new ways of expressing ourselves.