…is the technology. Sometimes, it’s simply not enough.

the trouble with technology

When was the last time you saved a Word document as HTML? Never, right? Same here. And yet it’s more than 11 years since Microsoft announced that the document format of the future was HTML. I should know. I announced it. I can see myself now: standing in front of an audience of 1,500, leading them into a brave new world, where people didn’t save on their hard disk. Or on the network – or, at least, not directly. Using Microsoft Office 97, they saved on the intranet. Using HTML of course. I peered out into the semi-darkness. 3,000 sceptical eyes peered back at me. And here’s the thing: they were right, I was wrong.

Way cool

The trouble with most technology is the technology. It’s cool, it’s different and it makes for great demos. People gasp in amazement at product launches. They feel a frisson of excitement and anticipation. Then they go home or back to their office, and try it out themselves. And the result? Usually, it’s disappointment. Remember WAP? And the hoop-la over 3G? This week, it’s the Sony Reader, an electronic book that’s hit the UK market. With a 200MB capacity, it can store over 160 books. It has a (faux) leather cover, and uses display technology called e-ink.  It uses power only when the reader turns the (virtual) page. So in theory, the battery should last 1,680 pages between charges. There’s just one little problem.

Ne’er the twain

You’re either a reader or an gizmo junkie. Just step onto a commuter train – if you can – in the morning, and you’ll see that people fall into one of the two categories. Reading isn’t just following the words with your eyes. It’s much more than that. It’s the opening of the book, the turning of the pages, the turning back. It’s the smell of the book, the size and shape, the satisfying heft and bulk. It’s a physical sensation that nothing can replace. Technology fails when it forgets how end-users really live, work and relax. And if you’re writing about, marketing or selling technology, you should always remember the real people out there. The ones who still don’t save in HTML. Find out more: