Originally posted on Always-On
Most people now accept that our world is in one way or another tied to or driven by technology, be it your mobile / cell phone, your computer, or even your video recorder. I, for one, see technology as an enabler. My business relies on various technologies for its very functionality. Technology has become a necessity of my working life.
Technology is now fashionable. Mobile phones are the very epitome of this techno trend and they have become social thermometers of trendiness. Among a wide age group, and from one end of the social spectrum to the other, they are the accessory of choice.
But in the mad rush to get the latest gizmo into the pockets of everyone between the ages of six and sixty, something got lost in translation. So when did technology go bad? No, we’re not talking about The Terminator or The Matrix, we’re talking about the gross neglect committed by manufacturers when they choose not to consider the social implications of their devices.
For instance, the Internet was devised as a research tool for academicians. In this scenario, there was no security model as there was no need for one. Now, all and sundry traipse up and down the information superhighway and we see the smog of data, a pall of effluence rising from the most infamous traffic jam in history: the head-on collision between the juggernaut that is spam and the long yellow bus full of noobs traveling along the information superhighway.
So we soon begin to see how the Internet has become a tool for pedophiles, criminals, bulk spammers, and other digital detritus to ply their trade. If the rules are weak, bad things will happen.
Who could have foreseen this? In the very early 80’s, no one. But that was then, this is now. Surely we’ve learned our lesson? Er .. no!
The fact of the matter is, even knowing what to avoid is not enough of an impetus to affect change. Especially when the next new whizz-bang feature on the current gadget is so alluring and appealing.
By way of example, look at the cameras built into mobile phones. In Japan, children and teenagers have been banned from news agents because of a spate of thefts involving kids photographing entire magazines and then sending the pages onto friends to read later. However you choose to look at that, it’s stealing, plain and simple.
But there’s a flip-side to this: the knee-jerk, political reaction that rushes legislation into place to fill holes that either can’t be filled or weren’t there in the first place; namely the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000.
In the UK, it seems that using a mobile phone with a hands-free kit is far more dangerous than talking to a passenger in the car you’re driving. Apparently the research supports this, but common sense doesn’t. In the end, which do you think will win out?
So you thought Microsoft was going to get away with it this time around? Wrong!
Within Microsoft Windows is a tiny little feature that can have a potentially ruinous effect on your life. A small option with big ambitions: a messenger system that allows for the instant pop-up of banner adverts and other nausea.
To the best of my knowledge, this problem has been fixed. But this demonstrates that no matter how egalitarian or philanthropic your ambitions might be, or your desire to create compelling features for your customers, someone will be waiting to exploit whatever system or mechanism you put in place.
Now we’re on the verge of the next craze with mobile / cell phones: push ring tones. Sounds great on the face of it. You get to choose and send the ring tone to the recipient’s phone, so you dictate what their ring tone sounds like when you call.
Does this not sound like the perfect vehicle to terrorize someone with crank, vile, and odious sounds, grunts, and other offensive expletives?
I could be wrong, but the difference here is that I’ve thought clearly about the social implications of what these people are throwing into a forest of waving arms, all eager to seize whatever is new this week, regardless of how it might change their lives .. be it for better or for worse…