Decemberween: Technology Connections

We live our lives surrounded by stuff. It’s something of a rule that you don’t understand how the stuff that surrounds you works. That’s okay, you don’t have to be into it, you don’t have to want to, but there are interesting side effects of this.

There’s this idea that capitalism engenders innovation. That a lot of different people competing for attention will try different ways to earn our attention, and that effort results in a greater variety of quality products at the lowest, competitive price. Good ideas become expected parts of standards and over times, the markets form an idealised optimal vision of the best products possible. Always forward, always advancing ideas better and better.

This is, of course, fantastically stupid, because it clearly doesn’t. Advertising mostly hammers on the same four or five ideas and is done by companies that are rolling the dice endlessly, and when they roll double sixes, proudly proclaim that that was what they meant to do.

Capitalism doesn’t give us better products. We know that because all the best versions of products seem to have been made, then their great ideas were ignored and discarded, because greater profit could be extracted from them being worse. One great way to learn about this story, about the ways that toasters, microwaves, rice cookers and headlights work, and were made better than we can buy now, and those improvements were discarded.

Technology we live with is made by people and those people make choices. Understand them and understand what they think of you. This channel, Technology Connections is a lot of gentle, very positive, mildly-funny in that exhale-through-the-nose huh-never-thought-of-it funny way, but never gutbusters, presents an educational vision of things that get made.

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