Forever a Software Newbie
I suppose this blog is more of a reflective rant after I came to a lifelong realization: We are all embroiled in a software/hardware arms race. When I consider the last decade, I see my beeper. Then my fashion faux pas flip phone in my belt holster followed by the conga line of Apple iPhoneupgrades to my current (for how long?) iPhone 10 (I just had to have that camera and battery life!)
I can’t as of yet decide if this is planned obsolescence in the style of 1950’s Cadillac fins becoming obsolete and looking “old” or just a natural state of entropy that the rest of the world is on.
Expanding on this theme, keeping software current or a website afloat is like keeping a catamaran afloat.
It is a rabbit hole of attention and maintenance! I I recognize the “material world” of upkeep—breaking diesel engines, clogged bilge pumps, moisture rusts, UV damage to lines, or cables fraying due to oxidizing all which will need repair. But I never considered the non-material realm of bits and bytes.
Brand new computers are soon archaic, apps weaken with use, code corrodes, new software will need constant plugins and upgrades—all occurring on its own. There is nothing you did to cause the maintenance or could have done to prevent it. The more complex the gear, the more attention it requires. And there is more: the constant barrage of a changing digital world. When everything around you is upgrading, this puts pressure on your digital system and necessitates maintenance. You may not wish to upgrade, but you must because everyone is. “What was wrong with our old payroll system?” “What was wrong with Skype for Business, and why is Zoom better?” Why do we even need Trello?”
I used to upgrade my gear begrudgingly. After all, why upgrade if it still works? You know the drill. Upgrade this which means you need new drivers for that, so now you might as well upgrade that, in turn, necessitates upgrades downstream. One small upgrade or new software interrupts my working life or what I have been hired to do. No matter how long you have been using a tool, endless upgrades make you a newbie, and new software turns me into a novice—clueless as to basic functions.
It’s like a rental car, “I know how to drive, but where are the hazard lights?” I spend all day relearning a recent software update in lieu of doing the work at hand. I feel as if I will be a newbie forever. it appears that being a newbie is the new default, no matter your age or experience.
Will technological life always be a queue of endless upgrades?
I open a new software package, and menus have disappeared; functions have been dropped or shifted. “Who is in charge here, the tool? Or am I the tool?” If I delay an upgrade, the inevitable upgrade will collapse my peripherals and be even more disruptive. Much like a train roaring down the track, I’m forced to upgrade.
I become a newbie again by simply trying to keep up. The pressures are mounting. The obsolescence cycle is accelerating, and you will not have much time to master anything before it is displaced. Because technology requires endless upgrades, you will remain in the newbie state. Finally, most of the important technologies that will dominate life 20 years from now are not yet invented, so naturally, you will be new to what remains to exist. Resign yourself to the fact that you will be a newbie forever!
I just read that the lifetime of an average phone app is only 30 days! And I have not even touched on artificial intelligence yet, nor the leaching mercury and heavy metals filling up in our landfills.
Now dear reader, I must go as I have to relearn a recent software program upgrade and so half my day will be gone in lieu of writing more blogs.
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