Something has been bothering me more and more over the last, say, two years. Probably kicked off by the jolt that was pandemic lock-down and mitigation and misinformation and whatnot, I am really getting the full sense how technology literally resting in our pockets daily is almost completely vice and not value. We are leaving a ton of potential on the table for, well, YouTube shorts (which are mostly TikTok videos re-posted, let us be honest), trolls and insults, rants and pandering, to monetize monetize monetize.
I was sitting in a restaurant in Campbell, California speaking with Jim Reekes (if you ever owned a Mac back in the day, you are familiar with the infamous Mac Bong sound it played rather ominously on boot… That was Jim) and he was attempting to convince me that Google Maps was absolutely not worthwhile and was, in fact, a complete waste of effort on Google’s part. Maybe that was his fanboy speaking out of turn, but how wrong could one person be? Let us illustrate by an example from two days ago, wherein I told my mom how to see her location history so that she could see when they had gone to a therapy facility in Phoenix within some time frame… and wow, look at all that detail! But hey, Google maps provides real value, and having that location history was useful, so it isn’t completely evil, right? Also quite far from useless, definitely not a waste of time.
The utility falls off pretty quickly from there, though. Have you waited on hold to speak to a customer service representative lately? Why? Have you found a piece of software (a mobile application, desktop, or maybe just a website in any browser) difficult or even broken and you are trying to find some customer support? Have you received a bill or invoice or some other statement with incorrect or confusing information on it and a DoNotReply email address to reach out to?
If you are looking at the job market lately (and I extend my condolences now, because yipes that is another series of posts entirely), you may find a lot of effort goes in to market analysis, business intelligence, new customer acquisition… basically a lot of the stuff that was in that book I mentioned, in the middle. How many jobs focus on current customer retention, customer experience, relationship management that is not a quip posted on Twitter… again similar to that book, not really such a focus, but in the end, so much value!
As someone who has at least one eye looking at projects and gaps to fill and value propositions, I personally like the idea that people using what I create and, ideally, derive revenue from, actually like or at least value the thing in question. If the Food Truck thing (you may have heard about that at some point, call it the Mobile Vendor Platform and move on) sucked like the rest of the tools that are already out there, why bother? So I can make my slice of the disappointed customer revenue pie? If I speak to someone who us using what I made (they may have no idea who I am) and they tell me that this thing they try to use sucks and is awful and they wasted their money or their time or their sanity, well, should I just count my money and move on? I fear this is the state of our technology today, driven by growth and reach and revenue, not really by value and positive outcome.
There is simply too much left on the table nowadays. Phishing attacks, ransomware attacks, identity theft, deep fakes, and eventual danger such as utility shut down or maybe actual active destruction are all on the other side of people consuming Tik Tok videos and playing games and ghosting each other without any idea how the tech they have works and allowing the lack of tech that would actually improve and protect life and some sort of happiness is too hard.
A flat tire cannot be fixed by turning up the stereo, but that seems to be where we are lately. This needs to change.