[Editor’s note: Flip-Pal ambassador Thomas MacEntee finds that society’s initial rejection of new technology is not new but quite ancient and part of human nature.]
Are you sometimes overwhelmed with technology? Do you feel pressure to keep up with the “latest and greatest” such as smartphones and tablet computers? Ever shake your head when a grandchild or younger relative seems to have a natural affinity to learn new technology?
For me, I tend to seek out new technologies because I’m what’s called an “early adopter.” But even I sometimes have to make decisions as to whether or not to use something that all the “cool kids” are using. My recommendation is that you ask your friends and colleagues for advice about a new technology, do your research as to the “good, bad and ugly,” and then determine if the technology fits with your goals and lifestyle.
Negative Views of Technology Are Not New
In a recent article, Don’t Panic! Technology Has Always Been ‘Bad’, a stroll down the “invention memory lane” illustrates that when revolutionary technologies have been introduced, society participated in collective hand wringing as to how the new invention would ruin life as it was known up to that point.
The electric light bulb, train travel and the telephone were all seen as devices of evil, and untold harm was to be found when “used as directed.” Even in modern times, social media has been seen as a pox upon the very fabric of every day human life and how we communicate and relate to each other.
And yet, we’re still here.
Is Technology Really Innocent?
Having worked in the technology field for most of my adult life (I got my start in the early 1980s when the IBM Personal Computer debuted), I’ve always held the belief that technology itself was innocent, but how people chose to use it was the deciding factor on how the technology would be viewed by society.
There are few technologies that are seen as purely evil in their intentions or that harm would be brought about if “used as directed.” Most of the questionable advances are simply “double-edged swords” that can be helpful or harmful depending upon the situation.
Why Are Some Technologies Controversial and Others Are Not?
Author Genevieve Bell has looked at a variety of technologies through the ages and has developed a working theory as to what causes a technology to induce fear and panic among society members:
- It has to change your relationship to time.
- It has to change your relationship to space.
- It has to change your relationship to other people.
Technologies such as electricity, the Internet and mobile phones were initially held up to intense scrutiny and seen as ruinous to social order since they hit upon all three “change points” listed above.
In fact, almost every technology now commonplace in modern society caused a panic when first introduced. One other factor, not mentioned by Bell, but recently highlighted by Nate Silver, is the general availability of the technology in question. Silver mentions that while the printing press appeared in 1450, it took nearly three centuries for it to have a direct impact on the general population. Some technologies were economically out of the reach of most families and it would take years or centuries for the price point to come down to where an invention could change everyday life for everyone.
The panic point of a technology isn’t reached until it reaches a minimum impact level in terms of change and the number of users.
The Flip-Pal mobile scanner: Panic-free Technology
When it comes to scanning technology, there’s much more good accomplished than harm, although some scanners can be more “friendly” than others. Wand scanners might seem convenient but aren’t recommended for use with fragile photos or documents since the intended use is to drag the scanner across the document. The same can be said for some larger flatbed scanners that use a high-intensity light source—causing photos and documents to fade prematurely.
The Flip-Pal represents what I call “approachable” technology. This means it is easy to use, doesn’t require a manual to learn its features, and allows you to start using it right away. In fact, many times I’ve simply handed my Flip-Pal to an older relative and asked them to scan a photo. Within a minute or two they’ve figured out how it works and then they want to scan more stuff! There’s no complicated software, no apprehension or fear of “breaking something.” As I see it, the Flip-Pal mobile scanner is easy to “get” meaning it is easy to understand and use right out of the box.
The Flip-Pal mobile scanner may not change your relationship to time and space, but it can change how you relate to people, especially family members and help you get connected. Take the Flip-Pal to your next family reunion or holiday event and start scanning those family photos. Not only will you be the center of attention, but everyone will also see you in your role as the family historian preserving those important family memories.