Search icon Looking for something?

The App World: Are We Too Reliant on Technology?
2014, Q3 (July 26, 2014)
By Laura Dragonette, Communications Manager

Laura Dragonette
Laura Dragonette
The field of techcomm is always finding new and more efficient methods of working and relaying information. As a result, we've essentially revolutionized the processes by which people perform even the most mundane tasks. There's an app for everything now--you can board a plane without printing a ticket, access website content geared specifically for your device, control just about every electronic in your home remotely, and even talk into your phone to find the nearest Starbucks.

Growing up in the age of expanding technology, I really have to wonder if I'd be able to comfortably assimilate into society were I to encounter a time machine that transported me, say, fifty years into the past. Now, my family didn't get Internet until late in my fifth grade year and I didn't have a cell phone until my last year in high school, so I've got to wonder about the kids who learned how to use these devices as they learned how to read. It seems like the goal of every new invention is to make life easier for us, but now that we're so reliant on these tools, could we function without them? Here are a few thoughts from someone stuck somewhere in the middle of the digital revolution.

Reading a map

Don't even try to pretend you don't rely on your smartphone for navigation. It's as simple as typing an address into a text box, or even pressing a button and speaking your destination. So does anyone remember how to use a map? I remember learning how to read maps in third or fourth grade--reading legends, finding locations using the grid, using my fingers to measure a distance then calculate how many miles it translated into, and completing exercises to test my skills. I've got to wonder: do they still teach map skills in elementary schools now that the GPS has become so omnipresent? If technology were to fail for a day, would today's middle schoolers be able to find their way home from school?

Accessing information

School projects, research assignments for work, and finding information for personal reasons are so easy now that we have search engine websites such as Google and online university libraries that house hundreds of books and academic journals. Many times, it's not even necessary to go to the physical library to find the information you need (although it definitely still helps, especially with finding full-text versions of more complex books). Anything and everything is posted online in forms such as wikis, and it's easier than ever to stay informed and connected.

Finding a job

I must be honest, I have a hard time grasping how people did this before the Internet. Having the ability to search for jobs at the click of a button is so easy, which can be a double-edged sword. It's simple to find a job, but there's likely more competition since it's easier to mass-apply to a lot of jobs at once. The silver lining: not only is it easy to apply to a job, but it's also so much easier to find information about the company to prepare for the interview.

Doing work

Having constant access to a laptop has made it incredibly easy to keep track of documents, both at home and at work. Granted, the technology-based work that requires the use of complex computer functions likely didn't exist before the computers that made it necessary — as technology expands, so does our need to use it. Even so, it must have been so inefficient and tedious to complete some of the simplest tasks — everything from typing a letter to creating copies of a document to finding a printed file in the correct box.

Locating people

Cell phones have become the norm in the past ten to fifteen years, which means that people are always reachable. I remember when I was in elementary school and my friends and I would either call home phones or knock on each other's doors in an attempt to ride bikes together outside, often hearing "Stacy is at soccer practice, but she can call you back later." Not only can we find someone at the drop of a hat, but some apps even allow us to locate a person on a map (assuming that person has also enabled the requisite app). Although it's nice to disconnect every now and then, I think that this instant ability to communicate makes us a much more informed and even safer society.

These are only a few examples of how technology has revolutionized the way we operate on a daily basis. With all this technology so close at hand, it's easy to see how skills that were so crucial twenty or thirty years ago are now all but obsolete. Techcomm is right at the heart of these technological advances. Technical communicators create the apps that are now such an integral part of our lives, write the code that translates into a user-friendly website on any given platform, visualize ways to bring specialized information to its expected audience, and work toward making the next digital movement a reality. As a technical society, this is what we're a part of every day. Many of us tend to take for granted the fact that we'll never again communicate the same, and the most amazing part is that technology continues to advance at an exponential rate.

A healthy society should always be growing, always be evolving. As long as we can remember that it's healthy to retain a sense of autonomy from our devices, I think we'll continue to expand in the best possible ways. In our lifetimes, we've accomplished more than people one hundred years ago ever dreamed to be possible. Imagine the possibilities our future holds.

Laura can be reached at communications at stc-carolina dot org. Read more articles by Laura. End of article.

More articles like this...
Comments powered by Disqus.