Monday, August 20, 2007

confused by inefficiency: better living through technology

I like technology. I'm not obsessed with it (read: I don't own an iPhone) but I'm interested in it.

I really like technology when it makes me more efficient -- or at least feel more efficient, which I perceive to be just as valuable (read: I'd have an iPhone if the keyboard could accommodate my ogre-thumbs).

Last week a couple friends came over for some beers and a few hours later we're thinking about seeing that new Bourne movie (SPOILER: Jason Bourne is the only man alive who could not only roundhouse kick Chuck Norris to death, but also cripple Jack Bauer with a paperclip -- all in way less time than 24 hours). We find a theater in Brooklyn with a late showing and head over.

Unfortunately, half the borough was also planning on seeing a movie that night, so we found ourselves standing in a massive line to speak with one of two very tired looking ticketsellers. I have to admit, I rather mindlessly stumbled into place when a buddy pointed to the nearby ticket machines.

Of course! There were no fewer than four machines going totally unused. As far as I know, they had the exact same tickets those humans were selling, only without the line. A few finger jabs and a minute later, we were in line for popcorn.

But the thought lingered: Why were we all standing there waiting?

I know it's not because the machines only accept credit cards. There's way too much credit card debt for that to be the reason. I know how much people dislike waiting in lines. Maybe it's masochism?

A fear of touchscreens? Sure a lot of other people have wiped their fingers on it, but this is Brooklyn, groping those steel handlebars, we ride the subway into the city every morning. People die on subways.

Perhaps we just distrust machines -- or we miss the human connection absent in our isolated and increasingly automated lives?

About a year ago, a tech reporter told us that, "I'm not a robot guy." And he's a tech reporter.

I guess he's not alone. Could that many people have seen I, Robot?

I think Skynet started with automated ticket machines. That's it.

There is no fate but what we make for ourselves. Stop waiting in those lines people, use the machines. Before they start using us.


Bemmu Sepponen said...

Here in Finland we have a system in all major movie theatres where you can pay for the tickets online and print them out yourself. You even get to select the seat from a map.

alexis [kn0thing] said...

Are you sure you're living in Finland and not heaven?

How strict are your citizenship rules? Maybe I can find a Finnish bride...