Technology: Aids the experience or robs you of it?

Technology aids you and it sometimes overwhelms you. But, have you faced a situation where it robbed you of an experience?? Here is my case in point.

The use of a Digital camera: Helps me to capture moments that can be re-lived many times in later days. I have looked back at pics of family and friends that I took years ago and felt nostalgic about the moments. I am a keen photo enthusiast and love to use a digital camera whenever possible. However, I have at times felt that it has robbed me of experiencing an event as it happens. I recently went to the Sea World at San Antonio where the famous Shamu whale show is held. Me and my 6 year old kid were very excited at the beginning of the show. However, I had thrust upon myself the additional responsibility of capturing pics of the killer whales in action using a digital camera. What happened over the next 20 mins is something that most digital camera users would have experienced. My kid completely enjoyed the experience where the whales were performing various acrobatics and jumping in and out of the water with great precision. Me, on the other hand was trying hard to predict the whale’s next move, pinpoint the exact location of the move in the big pool and point my camera at the right place. And I was usually wrong.. So, by the time I turned around and pointed the camera and clicked, the whale was done with its flawless acrobatic movement and was back in the water. What I was left with was a picture of the turbulence in the water. See some pics below.

ShamuShow2ShamuShow3

I could neither live the experience with my eyes nor could I capture pics of the whale in action. I guess, some of you might argue that I could take a video or that I could use a better camera to click a picture faster, but the point that I am trying to make is that technology (in this case) robbed me of the experience of just lying back and watching the whales in action. I have also experienced this once when my child was part of a group performing a dance on stage and I was perpetually trying to locate him and zoom in to capture the moves. I have also had this problem some times when I relied on the Maps application on my phone completely to take me to a certain place and the GPS satellites just would not connect.

Hey, I am not against technology. I truly love and use the advances in technology, be it real time maps to help you get to the right place, the use of Face Time or Skype to look at and talk to loved ones living continents away, the use of minimal invasion for heart surgeries, the ability to predict weather and use it to one’s advantage, the amazing amount of information available on the internet that aids one to take a well informed decision, etc.

All I am trying to say is that there are times when these technological gadgets can be set aside in favour of a real experience (like in the case of the Sea world whales). Instead of trying to predict the whale’s action and trying to protect the camera whenever there was a splash, I could have just set the camera aside and lived the experience watching the whales in action with my child. It definitely would have been more memorable and exciting watching it with my eye lens than through the camera’s lens. All the videos and pics are anyway available on the internet, courtesy Google and Youtube. Differently, I could have used the camera to capture the expressions and emotions of my kid while watching the whales perform. Also, make sure that you have a plan B when you are relying on technology (like in the case of relying on Maps)

So, use technology as you need, but do not hesitate to set it aside in favour of a real life experience.

As Product Managers, we achieve the ‘aha’ moment when we focus not only on creating advances in technology but also on how to relate it back to the personal experience that is of utmost value.

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