My name is David Barts. I am located in Bellingham, Washington. I have over twenty years of experience working with technology professionally, first in computer systems support, then in software development.
I’m Something of a Paradox
Oscar Wilde once wrote:
Well, the way of paradoxes is the way of truth. To test reality we must see it on the tight rope. When the verities become acrobats, we can judge them.
One of the paradoxes in my life is that despite my fascination with technology, I’m also quite skeptical of it. I’ve never rushed out to embrace the latest new devices. I only recently acquired a smartphone (primarily so I can be familiar enough with them to help others with theirs); for many years, the appeal of such a device was lost on me. I still often leave the phone at home when I’m out; I don’t see the advantage in being perpetually at the beck and call of anyone else in the world with a telephone.
I’m older. I’m in my mid-fifties as I type this. Unlike the tech bros that fill today’s high-tech startups, I remember a life without computer technology everyplace. In many ways, that life, with its slower pace, was better than the hectic, always-connected-to-the-technosphere lives many of us live today.
Both of the above tend to be liabilities for someone who earns his living working with technology in the corporate world. I have found that many technology sector employers don’t want mere technical competence; they want young, eager cult members. This is not who I am; it is in conflict with some of my most fundamental core values.
In contrast, those liabilities become assets if you’re looking for expertise that can give you honest help with technology that serves your needs, not merely the emotional needs of some technology fanboy to see his personal biases validated.
I Want to Serve You, Not Validate My Pre-Existing Biases
Because I’m older, and because I don’t see technology as a virtue in and of itself, I don’t see the technologically skeptical (such as many senior citizens) as inferior simply because they grew up without lots of modern technology and might hesitate to unthinkingly embrace it as soon as it comes out. I respect the technologically skeptical because I am myself technologically skeptical.
We Need to Make Technology Appropriate
I consider it an indictment of our society that “Luddite” is used as an insult, to imply an unthinking rejection of technology. If you study the history of the original Luddites, you will see that they were not opposed to all technology, and not even opposed to the idea that technology might automate their jobs! What they were opposed to was the concept that it was always fine to use new technology, even when such use impoverished and immiserated people.
I think our society could benefit from a healthy dose of constructive Luddism. We need neither to embrace nor reject technology unthinkingly; we need to make technology appropriate.