Opinion: Update overload

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“It is time for an update,” our computers, smartphones and other electronic devices bark. Like some finger-wagging curmudgeon, they seem to be telling us that we’ve not kept up! What if we don’t have time to install? What if we like things the way they are? Our Silicon Valley overlords assure us that they have our best interests at heart. This revision, it is promised, will make us more safe, secure and happy. All good things come in this update.

Mention of how the new version will likely conflict with everything from our other applications to the 4-year-old-printer that we’d like to keep because it took us three hours and seven calls to the help desk to set up is noticeably absent from the spin. Sure, the downsides, along with a detailed description of how the edition will enhance our “shopping preferences” by keeping tabs on everything we do, are all extensively covered on Pages 47 through 53 of the fine-print manual that falls somewhere below the convenient agree button.

If we don’t upgrade, they warn, the world may stop spinning and the stars could fall from the sky. So, we endure the blue screens and conflict errors, the demands for reboot and the notices that our favorite features are no longer available. The sea of social media rises up in complaint. Quickly, the Gates or Zuckerbergs cut a check to some fad of a social cause and deflect the attention from their own failings, a million dollars here in getting people not to care about the new ad-bot in their software that will make them billions more in a year.

Still, some of the new features are terrific. Aren’t they mostly? Interfaces are better, faster and more intuitive than ever. Do they really know better?  Let’s hope not.


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