Love Ya Technology, But You Can Do Better

We’ve all had this conversation before: “What did we do before cell phones?”

Once we have a new technology that greatly improves our lives, we completely drop the old ways we used to complete the same tasks. It becomes so severe that we absolutely refuse to even consider old methods. “What? Write a letter? On paper, with an address, stamp, and an envelope? I’m not an animal.

I began thinking about all the software and devices that I’ve recently adopted and how quickly I’ve become so reliant on them. It’s amazing how fast the transformation happens. As soon as I find a better solution, even if buggy, I quickly dump the earlier solution and demand that the new solution get up to speed. Here are some examples of technology that’s been transformed the way I behave and what more I want out it.

Programming my TV remotely

I used to be able to do this with my cell phone to program my Series 3 TiVo. It was a very limited service as it really didn’t have a way for me to scan the program listings. You could only search and that required me to know the program I wanted to see. Now that I have the digital TV service AT&T Uverse which also gives me access to a free iPad application that lets me program my DVR remotely. Given the larger screen, I can not only search but also scan program listings. While it annoyingly crashes a lot, it’s fantastic. Regardless, it could be better. It’s still disassociated from where I learn about TV programming, which is online usually through friends and news. To simplify the recording process I would like a “Record Now” button next to any tip, news story, or discussion board about a TV show. That button would be pre-configured to my cable or digital TV service and therefore would automatically record the show on my device.

Access to programming

Now that I have digital TV I have access to an amazing amount of programming on demand. But for some demented reason my AT&T Uverse only wants me to have access to some of it and only up to a certain period of time. All the on demand programming I see on the service has an expiration date. What happens after that date? Does the 7th season of “Weeds” all of a sudden start to sour? While AT&T Uverse will only let me access this show for the next few weeks, I can log onto Showtime’s website or their iPad app with my AT&T Uverse account information and get all seven seasons any time I want. What gives AT&T Uverse? Why are you illogically fabricating scarcity? (read: “RealTech Trends 2021: Virtual Tours, E-Signatures, Marketing Automation”)

We know you’ve got it. We know you can keep it up there indefinitely. Why toy with us?

Reading books digitally

I absolutely love reading books on my iPad. I enjoy it so much that I’ve purchased more books, read more books, and now swear off purchasing anymore books only available in paper (one notable exception is my sister’s (Debra Spark) novella entitled “The Pretty Girl”, which is also available in Kindle edition).

If you’ve ever moved you know what a pain it is to box up all your paper books to send them to a new house to set up on a bookshelf just to make yourself look smart. Do you really need a physical representation of your information and entertainment likes? Most of us have dumped our CD collection for digital music. I decided it was time for me to do the same with books. It’s part of my plan to go completely paperless.

I’m a big fan of Google Books project, which is scanning the world of books to make them completely searchable. Once this is done, truly all of the world’s knowledge will be at your fingertips.

I don’t really have a major complaint for  digital books. I just wish everything was available. But that’s not technology’s problem. That’s copyright lawyers’ concern and hopefully that will be ironed out soon enough.

Online reviews

When I was working for TechTV (a now defunct 24-hour cable network about computers and the Internet), the editorial department at the network used to thumb its nose at user reviews. Nobody takes those reviews seriously. Consumers only consider editorial reviews legitimate, the editorial director used to say to me. Turns out he was monstrously wrong. User reviews are now defining markets. Think you can run a successful business with an overload of 1 and 2 star reviews on Yelp? Same for selling an app on iTunes. Four and five star reviews, a.k.a. the “gun” histogram, results in an insta-buy. The mirror image of that, one and two star reviews, results in an insta-pass, said Jason Calacanis in an interview I did with him about pivoting Mahalo.

Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote here on the Ingaged Blog the need for a checks and balances for user reviews. While online reviews are great, the power is getting to consumers’ heads and many are using it to threaten vendors rather than as a service that will help other consumers.

Podcast programming

I’m still amazed as to why podcasts still have extremely low penetration. I’m a huge fan and consumer of podcasts and have previously written about how I believe they’re a phenomenal medium for advertising. The problem with podcasting is iTunes controls the editorial market for them. iTunes along with the iPod/iPhone/iPad has proven to be the only decent distribution mechanism for podcasts. Nobody else has been able to crack their monopoly on podcast editorial. iTunes is the de facto and truly the only reasonable way your podcast can get discovered. TV Guide doesn’t control the listings for television programming, why can’t some other organization take some of the power away from iTunes?

GPS navigation via the phone

If you still have any money in GPS navigation devices, divest immediately. I don’t see how any of these companies can stay in business when both Android devices and now iPhones have navigation systems built into the devices.

Car manufacturers should be seriously ashamed of themselves for putting a $1,000+ premium on adding these devices into your car. Just goes to show how desperately people wanted these devices that they were willing to pay that kind of money.

Honestly, I rely on the GPS navigation on my Android so much that I absolutely never look up directions beforehand. I really don’t have any complaints for this technology, especially since they now give me updates on traffic, even offering different possible routes and tell me which one is faster. Guess what? Your in-car navigation device can’t do that, and you paid a fortune for it.

What’s on your list?

Those are just some of the technologies that have changed my life considerably, but I still want more from them. So what’s on your list? And what more do you want from those technologies?