Thursday, February 9, 2012

When Technology Surpasses Its Usefulness

One of the greatest philosophical questions of the digital age is as follows: At what point does technology surpass its usefulness?  I believe that the answer is: When the technology makes a task more difficult than the method it is replacing.  But I come here with more than an opinion on a philosophical question.  I have proof.   

It may look like an ordinary washing machine, but look closer.  Where do I insert change?

That’s right.  It doesn’t accept actual currency.  It also doesn’t accept credit cards.  It requires the user to go to a machine (not located in the same building as the laundry room) and exchange money for a prepaid card.  A prepaid card that is only good for the washing machines and dryers.  I didn’t have much choice so I went to the nearest machine.

I selected the “buy card” option (the card itself costs $2, which is more than it costs to wash and dry a load of laundry), and entered a $1 bill.  The digital readout said, “Bill Value: 1.00 – Bill not accepted.”  I tried multiple bills, but met no success.  Defeated, I went to a different building to a different machine.

Long story short, I had use my debit card, to buy a card so I could pay to do laundry.  The problem this could be argued to solve (money inside the washing machines needing to be collected/getting stolen) is solved by installing multiple new machines, at least one of which holds money. 

Well, that's the end of my rant.  I'm on my way to find whoever came up with this horrible idea and give him/her a taste of Occam's razor. 

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