Why Doesn’t New Technology Feel Comfortable Anymore?

An ode to the senses

Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD
Debugger
Published in
5 min readApr 8, 2022

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Photo courtesy of author

What, if anything, do you remember about 1999?

Endless discussions about the Millennium bug and our computers not being able to work. Or the dot-com bubble?

When I think of 1999, I think of music.

Napster — the peer-to-peer file-sharing network — changed everything. Suddenly it wasn’t necessary to buy a whole album for that one great song I heard on the radio. Now, I could use Napster to download any song I wanted.

Of course, the system wasn’t flawless. It took a long time — sometimes very long — to download a song. A phone call would disconnect me from the service and I had to start all over again. And I ran the risk of downloading a virus as well. But the service was free and provided access to an unimaginable library of music.

It was the start of a new era. And when Steve Jobs announced the iPod, it didn’t take long for me to digitize and store all my music on a virtual jukebox. Now I had access to thousands of high-quality songs wherever I went. I wasn’t forced to go out to Sam Goody or Tower Records and buy the albums of my favorite bands and manually copy the best tracks to a cassette tape or CD.

I soon got rid of my record collection. Vinyl records, mostly. I even gave away my turntable and CD player.

Looking back, this was a huge mistake.

In 1999, it was cool to jump on the digital bandwagon. I didn’t realize, back then, that music is so much more than a digital track. An album is a physical object, something you cherish and touch with your hands. The album cover art. The smell of the vinyl.

Music isn’t only about listening and hearing. It involves all the senses.

Sensory Underload

There are lots of reasons why people don’t like technology companies. Let’s not talk about that. But why do people increasingly complain about new technology? Why does it make people feel increasingly uncomfortable? Here are some complaints that I heard recently.

An MBA student made a surprising and unexpected statement about his Tesla:

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Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD
Debugger

Prof (law) exploring the collision of life, work, and technology, with a current project in the works - a sci-fi novel.