I've been earn­ing my liv­ing do­ing tech­nol­o­gy since 1981. By and large it's been a good time. Like ev­ery­body else in the wealth­i­er parts of the world, I'm al­so a heavy every-day us­er of tech­nol­o­gy, and I like us­ing it as much as I do cre­at­ing it.

A re­al­ly good piece of tech­nol­o­gy that does what it does well and quick­ly and eas­i­ly at a rea­son­able price and with­out er­rors is a fine thing and makes life bet­ter. Ex­am­ples in­clude Unix (in all its fla­vors), the Palm fam­i­ly of de­vices, the World Wide We­b, mod­ern pas­sen­ger cars, au­to­mat­ic teller ma­chi­nes, quartz watch­es, and your ba­sic "Swiss army" pock­etknife.

Too much tech­nol­o­gy is bad, and some even B.A.D. (Bro­ken As De­signed). Ex­am­ples in­clude Win­dows (un­re­li­able and car­ries hid­den agen­da), cell­phones (ter­ri­ble re­li­a­bil­i­ty and sound qual­i­ty) and air­ports (in­con­ve­nien­t, un­wel­com­ing, and slow).

And the Dif­fer­ence Is? · The most im­por­tant dif­fer­ence be­tween good and bad tech­nolo­gies is that good ones set out to do a fair­ly small num­ber of things well enough, while bad ones try to do too too many things, some of which they don't un­der­stand.

I have at sev­er­al con­fer­ences giv­en a talk the dif­fer­ences be­tween good and bad tech­nolo­gies, and I think I have a pret­ty con­vinc­ing case that I'm right about these dif­fer­ences; I'll turn it in­to a note on on­go­ing pret­ty soon.

author · Dad · software · colophon · rights
picture of the day
September 10, 2002
· Technology (80 more)

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