Power of Technology

When I was in college I took classes for a Computer Science / Anthropology double major.  It all seemed so interesting that I couldn’t narrow it down further.  Both people and technology fascinate me.

In one Anthropology class we discussed the introduction of technology on indigenous people.  Here is the gist of the story:

Some volunteers had set up a well system for the village to get water.  Prior to the well being created, the women of the village would trek to the river a mile or so away to collect water.  The idea was that the introduction of the well, would be a great boon to these people.  A month or so after the well was created the village women were interviewed to understand the positive impact of the new well.  Long story short, the women hated it.  It turns out that going to the river and collecting water was a major part of social interaction for these people.  Building the well negatively impacted how these women socialized.

I think of this story periodically as I evaluate technology and its adoption and usage.  What is the impact, is it for the social good, or does it actually do more harm?

The daughter of a friend of mine is in for heart surgery this morning.  We were talking this weekend, and Lori said she felt overwhelmed dealing with all the people calling concerned about Preslee.  Lori said she wanted all her energy focused on Preslee, and not having to deal with updating people on the phone.  She had received a computer for Christmas, so I told her she needed a blog.

I set her up on Windows Live Spaces, and Windows Live Writer (Beta).  The best part is – she doesn’t  understand or care how it works, it just works for her.  I set up a turn key system for her so she can write and post as she wants.  Lori’s blog is here – Lolilee’s Space.  Lori can now use this blog for a couple different things:

  • Update family and friends as to the progress of the surgery and recovery
  • Give Lori something to do while she waits for Preslee during this difficult time
  • Give Preslee something to look forward to as she progress through her surgery and the healing process

I believe this to be a great example of how technology should be used.  To help people interact better.  Don’t get me wrong, I am as much a fan of other technology such as video games, and I have burned away much time ignoring others playing these games.

But at the end of the day, I think that technology should help us with our social interactions rather than separate us – I know that seems like a no brainer, but that is my 2 cents.

Update – Associate additional tags with post

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