Friday, April 22, 2011

Technology - Means, not an End

Don't get me wrong...I enjoy technology. I'm the nerdy guy who whips out his phone at a moments notice to find an answer. My wife sometimes refers to me as "Google Brain."

I also pursue productivity. So when I come across a new phone app or computer program that claims to be the next big thing, I'm tempted to look into it. If I'm honest though, I'm falling into the exact trap that marketers want me to believe: "If you want to do great work efficiently, you need this product (oh, and yours is too old)." It's a lie. The video below is a great example of the frustrations that come when the technology we own is all of the sudden outdated.

It's important to understand something when it comes to technology--it will never inspire us on the same level as real life and will leave us feeling empty. As songwriters and creators, we don't need anything but the basics to be profound. I've seen great songwriters write great songs using only a pencil and paper. Everything else is just a distraction from the craft, unless kept in a proper behind-the-scenes role.

Sometimes we put the cart in front of the horse by seeing technology as an answer. Auto-tuning is a great example. I believe it started with good intention, mainly fixing wrong notes so that the singer's track sounded a little cleaner. But when a tool like this gets in the wrong hands, all of the sudden anyone can sing. (In some intentional uses the voice is obviously meant to sound like a synthesizer, but I'm talking about between these two extremes.) There is a middle ground in which the human voice sounds not-so-human anymore.

I go wrong when my focus becomes more on how efficiently or productively I can streamline a task rather than on the task I am actually accomplishing. Take this blog post for example. I have a system of logging ideas (I started this draft three weeks before publishing), taking pictures on my phone with Instagram, uploading those photos to Flickr and embedding the HTML code. Once posted, I blast out a message on Twitter, which is synced with Facebook. Then I back up the text in a Word document and start planning the next post.

Technology should never be the end, but only the means to a meaningful end. And that meaningful end will be inspired by the messiness and realness of the world around us.

Keep writing,



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