Tech Advances, Are Not Always Advances in All Respects

Advances in technology are not uniform along all dimensions.  The new technology is often better overall, but may actually represent steps backward along some dimensions.  For example I used to use a word-processor called "Wordmarc" that permitted me to go to a page by simply typing in  the page number of the page, which I still wish I could do with large documents in Microsoft Word.  And the first email system we used in the college, from Wordperfect, I think, allowed you to retrieve an email, if you had second thoughts about it, before it was opened by the intended recipient. 

Here are a couple of more examples:


(p. A8)  In the age of film, when the button was pressed, the picture was captured in an instant. In the vast majority of digital cameras, there’s a delay that can last as long as two seconds.

To some users, it’s another example of how advanced-technology products often lack important virtues of their predecessors.  Cellphones often crackle with static that Ma Bell eliminated in rotary phones many years ago; computer printers need endless adjusting before they can print an address on an envelope — a task that typewriters took in stride.

"I think we’ve really gone backwards on these technologies," complains Marcia Gregg, a mother of two from Boston who has a digital camera but still fondly recalls her Pentax from the 1980s that "was instantaneous and made a really cool sound" when its motor drive was running.


For the full article, see: 

WILLIAM M. BULKELEY.  "Why Digital Cameras Often Shoot the Pony But Get Only the Tail The Answer Is ‘Shutter Lag,’ The Bane of Shutterbugs; Photo Ops Become Oops."  The Wall Street Journal  (Fri., May 26, 2006):  A1 & A8. 

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