viernes, 8 de julio de 2011

The Psychology of Adapting to New Technology

The Psychology of Adapting to New Technology.
By Wesley Fenlon - June 2011 -

We all have that moment with technology sooner or later: we just don’t get it. It’s a moment that will be followed by many more as the years ago by. Maybe it starts with touchscreens: we prefer buttons. Maybe it starts with Twitter: we'd rather use IRC. In our teen years, every new piece of tech is effortlessly absorbed into our daily lives. Ten years, twenty years later, it’s tough, and sometimes we stop adapting altogether.

This is a familiar story for anyone immersed in the world of technology, but there’s actually some interesting psychology behind the phenomenon. Author Daniel Wilson, who recently wrote a sci-fi novel called Robopocalypse, dug into the issue for The Wall Street Journal to rationalize his own issues with growing old and feeling like his typewriter should have a power button.
Wilson relates the difficulty in adopting new forms of technology and social media to the work of psychologist Jean Piaget. Piaget observed infants interacting with their environment--shoving Cheerios and stuffing them in their mouth holes, as Wilson describes it--and called the skill sets they created for interacting with the environment schema. Schema form the basis of how we deal with the world around us, and they evolve to relate to new inputs through a process called assimilation.
This is where our issues with technology come in. Wilson established his schema for dealing with keyboards in the 1980s, where every typing device took batteries or a power cord to function. When he started using a typewriter, he couldn’t escape the nagging sensation that it needed to be plugged into something. Similarly, you probably know someone--a grandparent, mom or dad--who carries all their phone numbers around in an address book instead of putting them into their cell phone. That fits within their established schema--phones existed for decades before they could store information.
The younger we are, the better we are at assimilating new inputs from our environment. It takes more work to adapt. And if we stop adapting, we don’t just miss out on some cool new software or device. We’ll miss out on the world.
But at the moment you choose to stop growing, your world will begin to shrink. You'll be able to communicate with fewer people, especially the young. You will only see reruns. You will not understand how to pay for things. The outside world will become a frightening and unpredictable place.
Do you remember your first “Bah, humbug!” tech moment?

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