How technology develops

Have you ever used a really good product and a few months later you see other people using it? Have you ever found it difficult to find a product in a store, and after a year, or so, it is sold in most stores? This is technology evolution.

Maps: the latest evolution

Google became the most dominant developer for maps. Their search facilities are now available in multiple formats (webpages, images, maps…).

Not so long ago Apple released their version of maps. Unfortunately, the content was not that well ironed out. Many users reported problems of missing streets and buildings, for example. It would be fair to say that their official launch was like a prototype — real users needed to use if, for real, then report problems with it. But why didn’t Apple release this product to a selective bunch of users to alert them of these problems before it affected millions and millions of people? Sometimes businesses don’t step back and look at the whole system. A mix of reductionism and holism, two types of information system design techniques to obtain successful projects, could have been applied here.

And now Nokia is launching Here Maps to continue the evolution of technology maps.

What way does technology move?

In short, one company moves first. If they are well run they will lead for a while (have patents to protect their innovation etc) then other companies follow with their version of that product. Technology moves in the same direction. Is this why products look similar?

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We are too quick with technology!

When it comes to technology we tend to want things now, at this very moment in time. By thinking like this we do not always think of the consequences. This post touches on a few (of the many) reasons why we are too quick with technology, as well as system failure.

US PreCheck system

On Thursday, 25th Oct 2012 a BBC News article identified how frequent fliers could have posed a risk to airlines: frequent fliers could by-pass certain security procedures because technology thought they were always going to stay ‘safe’ travellers.

Furthermore, by using technology too quickly, domestic airlines learnt that their digital barcodes were unencrypted. Unencrypted barcodes are very vulnerable to unauthorised users because they are easier to hack. Unencryption basically opens up a whole program up to the internet because anyone with the skills and access to the site can potentially access the system.

Unencrypted data is basically an open invitation to intruders. It’s a bit like having a house but leaving the front door unlocked — almost anyone can break in.

Boeing and WiFi

A UK newspaper also highlighted in an article one of the most concerning system failures, in my view, because they embraced technology too quickly — boeing.

A few years ago Boeing thought they could give WiFi to their customers flying on Boeing 787. Yes, this would have been ground-breaking at the time by allowing people (a few years ago) to get internet on the move and in the sky, literally! But they soon discovered that having one single on-board network (i.e. a single system would carry the navigation, control, the internet…) could allow a passenger to hi-jack the plane from the passenger deck because they shared the same system. This meant that if someone was granted access to the internet on the 787, they could gain unauthorised access to other areas of the same network — including the navigation system.

This is a bit like allowing a stranger to use your kitchen, it wouldn’t be impossible for this same stranger to use your bathroom: they’re already in! If a passenger had the technical skill set they could gain entry to other systems, even if they were unauthorised — why didn’t they allow passengers to simply fly the plane from the cockpit!

Okay, this was caught on-time but it shows just how quick companies (and us!) are embracing technology.

Terms and conditions apply

We do it all the time, you and I. When was the last time you hit the “I Accept” button at the end of that long contract? Or do you just hit the button and use the service, hoping that you can do everything, such as authorised printing, for example. Are you really allowed to do what you do? Or is it clearly written in the terms and conditions? You know, the ones that few people, you and I (us!) actually read.

Browse safely. Think safely. Think smartly — use technology wisely. It is easy to embrace it too quickly. Doing this can harm you and I. Remember that the balance is important, right?

Why technology can get it wrong?

There is an article on BBC News‘ website this evening which explains a mother’s anguish at Facebook because she found out that her daughter was dead through Facebook. Why do these thing happen?

Report a deceased person’s profile

Facebook have a form allowing you to pass on validated information that someone has died, such as a friend or family member. Okay, this might be a good idea. Maybe it is good to have a memorial page to remember a person — after all it is good to remember someone online, right?

But this form does not collect people’s opinions on a death. Facebook treat a death like they treat people — just like a number.

Technology and feelings do not mix

No matter how much of a bad day you’re having, or how much you are enjoying life, technology will never really know your emotions. Okay, maybe Twitter can analyse words in your tweets to gather that you are angry, but they will never know why you are angry. Humans can always know, and should be the only ones to ever know how you are feeling.

The mother who found out her daughter was dead through Facebook will never know why Facebook was so insensitive. Maybe she will get an apology from them, but that will not make up for what they done to her.

Technology does not do emotions. Technology needs to take a step back to know that the people, human beings, who use their stuff do do emotions. Humans do emotions really well, in fact.

Examples of where technology gets it wrong because of emotions

  • criminal gangs take place online to vent their anger, or to play with other people’s emotions — they arrange to beat other people up, or even worse, kill other people. Technology can facilitate crime!
  • paedophiles can roam around on the online world to groom young children, and vulnerable adults. Technology does not always get people’s intentions. Technology can support other people’s (sick) sexual emotions
  • technology allows people to steal off other people’s stuff. Technology allows people to download free music, movies and programs. It does not take into account the creator’s loss. How are they funding themselves? Why is your favourite artist not writing as much music as they were before? Is it because they are not getting as much money as they once were? Does this mean we need to be more ethical, as the human being using technology?

Technological suggestion?!

Why does Facebook not send a private message to immediate family members, before they tell the world someone is dead? This won’t necessarily solve their problem, but it might make ‘finding out’ less painful. Facebook do know who and where people are, why don’t the humans behind these global companies get to grips with technology? We will never know why such managers get top positions in a selfish and global company.

As you can tell, I am a little angry with technology right now. It does not always get it right: technology sometimes will never know the full picture!

What date will the new iPhone be released?

A few weeks ago, I said, in a post, that the new (sixth generation) iPhone will be released before Christmas 2012. My whispers are getting a little louder, and they say that the launch will be on Wed 12th September 2012.

What are the sources saying?

thinner, larger screen and a smaller dock connector.

Details of what the new Apple iPhone look like, or what additional features it has, are limited – even on the open web. But pictures are filtering through, and it looks like Apple are trying to retain their market share, because Android seem to be getting more and more of Apple’s market share!

Technology viewpoint

You might have heard of web 2.0 — have you? If so, you will know that web 2.0 means that users have a say and produce content for the web. For example, having your own blog is a web 2.0 element, whereas just reading a website was a web 1.0 element.

So if users create content, interact with others and take part in other user-centred content, what is next for the web? Web 3.0 — the ability to pay for services with our own technology. I think that the new iPhone will allow the internet to be used as a true communication method. Our mobile (cellular) phone will be linked to our very own bank account to pay for goods / services. This is the future of the internet. An internet which allows us to connect, more than we ever have, to complete transaction(s) on the web.

The new iPhone

It’s not too techie

I am pro Android, not because they are open source, but because their mobile’s are faster! But if you are an iPhone / Apple fan you might be interested to know that reliable whispers are stating that the new iPhone 5 will be released before Christmas 2012 – probably October 2012. If I hear a new reliable whisper, I’ll let you know.