Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Who’s The Boss?


I don’t know how you start your day, but I start mine on my computer (after the usual bathroom and coffee rituals). It’s not just my productivity tool, it’s how I organize that productivity. Pretty much every day, the first thing I do is enter notes from the day before. This blog started as notes on the yellow pad next to my bed.

The next thing I do is pull up my master do list, but not to see what I have to do. Before I can do anything, I have to integrate the important things from yesterday’s notes—and rearrange today’s priorities. I know this detail is boring, but it emphasizes an obvious point: when I start the day I have things I need to do.

I may own this computer and its software, but it treats me like it’s the other way round. Long before I get a chance to input yesterday’s notes, some [expletive deleted] software wants, nay demands my attention. And I’m lucky if it’s only one program in my face before I even get near what I want to do.

Most days I need to get cracking, so these interruptions are more than minor annoyances. What doesn’t help are the choices they offer: Update Now or Remind Me Later. I’m eager to get to my work so I never, NEVER pick “Update Now.” As a result, the damn thing keeps coming back (at mysterious intervals) to get in my face again and again.

Here’s a thought: Why couldn’t we just be told when there are pending updates (and how many)? Why couldn’t we go to that list and select which update to install when we want to? If there’s an app that does this, please let me know. If there isn’t, write it and get rich.

Some might think this is minor quibbling, but it’s not. It goes to the fundamental question of how we relate to technology: Who is in charge, us or the machine? Who is servant and who is master? If we still have a choice, then why are we not choosing to have technology serve us?

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