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Simon’s Second Law of Technology

I'm wondering these days if I will ever make the jump to another device.
May | 12 | 2010

May | 12 | 2010

A few weeks ago, I complained about the iPad’s lack of multi-tasking. Along these lines, many have pointed out some compatibility issues with different applications relating to word processing and presentations, both of which are critical many of us. Frustrating? Sure. Although I don’t own an iPad, they would drive me nuts as well. (As my friends know, I’m hardly the most patient person in the world. There. I said it.)

Then yesterday I listened to an interesting podcast with my friend Scott Berkun on the “boring” future of user interfaces. Scott questions why many people unnecessarily complain about traditional UIs and platforms. Aren’t our existing ones good enough? What specifically is so deficient about mouses and keyboards? Are they preventing you from doing something in particular?

I started asking myself the following questions:

  • Am I becoming permanently ingrained using “my” technologies in a certain way? Like many, I was outraged at the new UI for MS Office 2007.
  • Am I looking for reasons to reject new technologies, applications, and versions–especially when they’re not essential and very different?
  • Technology-wise, how many things can one try (much less effectively use) on a regular basis?
  • Is this just prudence? (I can’t tell you how glad I am that I never upgraded to Microsoft Vista.)

Now I know that this isn’t just me. More than a few people have told me that they’ve struggled without a “right click” button on Apple computers.

Simon’s Second Law of Technology

All of this leads me to my second law: Change becomes harder the longer that you work with existing technologies. This accompanies my first law: Never buy the first version of anything.


What do you think? Are you finding change harder as you get older and more accustomed to doing things in a certain way? With so many new things out there, are there limits to how many technologies and toys that you can digest?


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Adios, Spotify.

Thoughts on platform perversion, The Church Lady, and doing the right thing, consequences be damned.


  1. Jim Harris

    Not only have I managed to resist the iPad, I also managed to resist both the iPhone and the iPod.  Don’t get be wrong, it’s not like I have something personal against Steve Jobs or anything (although if I did it would be completely justified — trust me, he knows — JOBS!!!!!).

    I have also managed to avoid either 4G or 3G mobile technology (I believe my cell phone is technically -1G).  But somehow, I did (perhaps accidentally) purchase a netbook last year — or maybe the neighborhood kids left it on my front porch out of pity.

    Despite having spent my entire career working with computer science and information technology, I have been much of a gadget guy and, most likely, I never will be.

    Gotta go now — there’s a Matlock marathon on TV Land…

    And stay the hell off of my lawn you iHippie freaks!


  2. Rob Paller

    Now we know Jim is a PC and not a Mac. 😉 He just won’t come out and admit to owning a Zune HD and a Zune Pass. His netbook arrived with Windows 7 and when he isn’t writing Data Quality mythology blogs he is busy playing Gears of War 2 with Scott on his Xbox 360. (I kid…)
    The next generation iPad will be where it starts to hit its stride and likely gets my hard earned dollar. If I can stay out of my local Apple Store long enough. If it comes out before the holidays it will be a death match between the new iPhone and iPad though.

  3. Louis Rosas-Guyon

    The problem isn’t with change — it’s with change for the sake of change.
    The MS Office ribbon example you cite is a good one. Once you get used to the ribbon it actually is much faster than the old method. Initially there is a learning curve to overcome but that’s normal.
    What makes me nuts is useless change. You see it everywhere and it’s a real business problem, especially where productivity is concerned.
    As for Apple, the iPhone UI is an excellent touch screen phone UI.  We have different expectations from items we can fit in our pockets. Think of the Swiss Army knife – we are happy it is multi-functional. However, try to scale that up to something a carpenter would need and it become ridiculous.
    The problem appears in the iPad, not the iPhone. We have a different expectation for functionality and capability from something the size of the iPad. We expect certain capabilities, instead we got an over-sized iPhone that can’t make calls.

  4. philsimon

    @ocdqblog – Well, you’re an interesting guy. Huge on Sci-Fi but not a gadget buy. Kind of like loving Rush but hating Dream Theater.

    @– I couldn’t agree more about change for the sake of change. Makes no sense to me.

    @robpaller – I think that your Apple-related patience will be worth it.


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