How People Lie About Technology

August 9, 2010

I don’t know about you, but I am becoming increasingly suspicious that people are lying about their prowess with and mastery of technology. It is easy to do when you consider how fast the stuff proliferates. Every day a herd of geeks in a sealed room in San Jose or Bangalore produces another acronym for a perhaps useful piece of computer software. Every day another must have application (no, I wont say app.) is born like an ork out of dirt and code. And every month another black box with a screen is blasted out to our attention as the very thing that will keep us…connected. But connected to what?  That is another question we can deal with in a non-threatening easy to read analog post doctoral thesis in another life on my home planet, Sanity.

The likelihood that any single person you may meet is au fait with a large part of the whole whirling and evolving field, or even one hundredth of it, is pretty darn small. Even Steven Hawkinge has doubts. You think Bill Gates knows how to program his house? So it becomes a piece of cake (or bagel, or whole wheat, or gluten-free cracker) to waffle on about any single part of it, real or imagined, with not much fear of opposition, or even partially sensible debate. There is so much room for ignorance to roost.

In our superficially polite society we generally wait until the speaker is out of range to voice any doubt on the veracity of his or her claims. None of wants to be the one who pipes up with the embarrassing observation that one amongst us may be a….charlatan! None of us wants to risk the collective eyes of our not so tightly knit circle of friends (sic) and acquaintances to focus in a femtosec on our plainly depleted database. Those friends whose intelligence you have often queried. Oh come on…you know you did…And so once again, the stage is clear for the delivery, the test flite, of the latest techno-fable.

And this is why we need children. I can tolerate the raised eyebrow, the exasperated sigh, the audible groan, from my children when I am asking them again to explain the difference between this format and the other, and why this should prevent me from again enjoying a movie I once watched effortlessly with a choc-ice in one hand and another technologist in the other in a darkened room.

My children won’t lie to me about their technical knowledge. They know that despite the fact that I, have either used or owned computers since 1967, actually saw and touched a working analog computer (as big as an Airstream trailer, not including the A/C unit cooling it), have sold highly technical products costing hundreds of thousands of dollars around the world and New Jersey, can really tell you what is a semiconductor, and why electrons may or may not do what we have said they often do; they know that I cannot use the I-Pod they gave me for Christmas.

But it is the rest of us that need to stop pretending that we are keeping up with developments; especially when many of those ‘developments’ have little or no practical use in our daily lives. So we must rid our conversations of these close to insane and flatly untruthful claims to expertise we do not own about technology, easy at is seems and get back to making insane and flatly untruthful claims about golf, politics, religion and the real way to make a decent Manhattan cocktail.

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