For the past decade, we have undergone a staggering revolution. Suddenly, computers are becoming faster, more powerful, smaller, and most importantly, easier to use.
If you listen to any speech from the CEO of a hi-tech company, there is almost always a reference to usability.
Steve Jobs, Macworld Expo 2007: “There’s no power brick necessary. And they’ll hook up an HDMI cable to their wide-screen TV, and they’ll use wireless networking to get their content. So it’s really, really easy to use.”
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft Surface Event: “We believe that any intersection between human and machine can be made better when all aspects of the experience hardware and software are considered in working together.”
Hugo Barra, Google IO 2012: “Android makes your life easier. Simple tasks should never require complex procedures.”
The list goes on and on. Today’s focus is on making it easier to use your devices so they become an integral part of your life. (Now I’m talking like Steve Ballmer after watching all of those keynotes.)
This evolution both gives and takes.
As devices become easier to use, the knowledge needed to use these devices is less. And when we don’t need to know something, we usually don’t.
Basically what I’m saying is that as devices become seamless, anyone will be able to use them, and very few will bother trying to know what’s actually going on inside. To prove my point, I give you an iPad – an extremely intuitive, easy to use tablet – and Iggy the cat – a feline with no technical training whatsoever.
If an illiterate kitty is able to use our devices, it is likely that our children will know as much about the device’s insides as Iggy.
This has another consequence. My generation (the millennials) is extremely involved and educated in computers. As the demand for computer engineers increases, there are more and more millennials coming out of college ready to work. The next generation, however, will be far less knowledgable about computers. This means that as the demand for computer engineers increases over time, the supply of young coders will decline. This will mean that either they will become far more valuable, technology will come to a standstill, or we will decline back into the dark ages.
Okay, that might be going a bit far.
But my general point still stands: As devices are easier to use, our children will know less about them.