Technology needs to get out of its own way

Design simplicity, less disruptive upgrade cycles a must.

Booz Allen Hamilton

Complexity is bad. Simplicity is good.

We live in an age of diminishing returns with respect to business worker output.

One of the things that technology was supposed to do was make us more productive, and by extension, allow our lives to become easier.

No one could have foreseen we’d come to live in a time where the complete opposite is true.

Technology has allowed us to be more productive. Collectively, we’ve made more stuff than ever before. We’ve done more things than ever before on computers compared to typewriters or pen and paper, too.

And we are constantly tweaking our technological process management in order to increase levels of individual performance.

But does all of this increased production empower or make workers happy?
Happiness should be a state that exists for good stretches of time. It shouldn’t be temporary.

While our ability to “add value” to whatever given business activity we may be performing is somewhat of a moving target, we’ve been (mostly) able to reach our employer-dictated goals over and over.

Meeting goals is supposed to make us happy. But it typically only does so for the first few years of reaching them. The problem with repeatedly exceeding numbers’ expectations, is those that would manage us end up increasing our productivity benchmarks.

All this micro-management makes for a defeatist American worker mindset. This also leads to excuses when we fail to reach our goals. Here are some hypothetical examples based on real excuses I have seen:

“Windows 10 is bloated and that’s why I can’t work as efficiently. It tries to do too much and I can’t stand Cortana.”

“macOS is bloated and I find myself thinking too much about capitalizing the proper letters when I spell it. I guess I’m still stuck on Mac OS X and OS X -- my Apple operating system ‘exes’. Anyway, did I mention I can’t stand Siri?”

“I use Linux on the desktop, but hardly anyone else in the business world does. I tried to talk about what a great GRUB Deepin has to someone recently, and they responded they’d never heard of that restaurant. Anyway, did I mention most everyone thinks Linux’s not easy to use?”

All kidding aside, in order to achieve the broader goal of advancing ourselves as a species we must find ways to make things simpler -- both on the job and at home.

If there is strength in numbers, it stands to reason the sooner the greatest number of people can be made to feel comfortable and productive using technology, the sooner civilization can make its next great strides.

Return to Simplicity

For all of its perceived complexity, when it comes to “set-it-and-forget-it” operating system distributions, OSs like Ubuntu Mate 16.04.1 LTS should receive greater consideration for long-term application.

Apple updates macOS too often.

Microsoft updates Windows too often.

Five years of consistent, simple user interface can lead to increased productivity for a workforce that I dare say would be happy using something familiar, and yes, simple to operate.

I’d have less consulting work for sure if more people left the Microsoft and Apple hegemonies. But that’s not likely to happen.

In order for the long-term viability of the desktop computer operating system to exist, however, upgraded OS releases need to be delivered much less frequently.

Stability and lack of disruption is what an OS like Ubuntu Mate offers by virtue of its five-year security and stability support cycles.

This would mean increasing the amount of time between PC hardware refreshes, too.

Keeping business machines (and their operating systems) longer would lead to increased productivity and cost-effectiveness.

It’s pretty simple.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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