I get at least two upgrades per week for various things on my Apple desktop and my smartphone. I really couldn’t tell you what they do. I suppose they are helpful. I certainly understand the importance of antivirus upgrades. For the rest of it, not so much.
But one thing upgrades don’t seem to do is make my Internet life simpler or easier. Now, admittedly, I am of the troglodyte baby boomer generation. Technology does not come to me as easily as breathing, like it does for my employees, my younger entrepreneurial colleagues, and, most especially, my 13-year-old daughter. So what I long for every day is an app for technological simplicity. Wherefore art thou, O wondrous app? It seems making things simpler for the technologically impaired is not the first thing on the minds of genius inventors, engineers, or app creators.
A couple of years ago writer Delia Ephron, a fellow long-in-the-tooth member of my generation, wrote a marvelous cri de coeur for the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal. With great unpretentious wit she described her attempt to master a new Facebook upgrade called the Timeline. She reports:
“The Facebook page used to be quite basic. Even a moron (me) could understand it. At the top of the page you posted a message. Below that, ‘friends’ could respond, and below that were your earlier posts. Now thanks to this newer better thing called a Timeline—I’m sure many people, younger people, understand why it’s called this, but I don’t—there are multiple columns. The Facebook page is now completely confusing. What is new? What is old? The messages are where? Where? Your eye is flying around having no idea where to land.”
I’m sure the Facebook help desk straightened out Delia when they got back to her. But I understand her frustration. I’m bloody busy and I don’t want to spend time with upgrades that do more and more. Please give me less and less. I need to spend my days with that Mt. Everest of undealt with items filling my inbox.
Delia Ephron complains that Microsoft’s Word “improves” itself constantly.
“I just got a new computer and was forced into a $149 upgrade. I also had to spend $199 on a new version of Final Draft, the software program that screenwriters use. “Don’t get 8 whatever you do, it’s worse than 7,” I was warned by screenwriter friends. Final Draft 7 is so preferred that the other week I found one for sale on eBay for $400.”
While I am admittedly imperfectly comfortable with technology, I am not a Luddite. My virtual executive sales outsourcing company, Corporate Rain International, couldn’t exist without complicated IT and brilliant apps. Many of my clients make these magical things. I wish there was more attention paid to user-friendly accessibility for antediluvian entrepreneurs like me.
In a final comment about continually upgrading smartphones, Ephron says, “My new phone is already too smart for me and I assume new phones will be even smarter. All a smarter phone means is another way for me to feel dumber.” Amen, Sister Delia.