By Mark Mayfield
We had some fun with this month's cover story about "Dealing with Technophobes." It's likely that most readers of AV Technology are not "technophobes"; you probably wouldn't be reading this if you were, unless you had some sort of masochistic tendencies. However, most of you have encountered these types in your professional lives.
There's a flip side to this story that's not so funny. In fact, it can be downright dangerous if you're in the path of a flying PC or loudspeaker. That's right - I'm talking about technorage (as in "techno-rage"). It's that rising anger you feel when your beloved technology just won't do what you want it to. It's similar in a way to 'roid-rage that we hear about in the world of sports enhancement, except that the only thing that grows bigger and stronger is the manufacturer who sells replacement gear for rage-ruined equipment.
I first experienced technorage in the early days of my professional career, as we were beginning the transition to "automated" audio mixing consoles. They never seemed to do what I needed them to do. As moving faders came into the picture, I became convinced that the machine had a mind of its own - after all, the visual proof was there. And like most of you, I've worked with office equipment pretty much throughout my 20+ years in this industry. There are days that I become so frustrated with my laptop, it barely survives my impulse to hurl it across the room. Sound familiar?
Apparently, technorage is real. Way back in 1999, the Washington Post cited a study conducted in the U.K. that identified "Technology Related Anxiety" (TRA, as if we need another acronym). The study reported high levels of PC-related abuse by
colleagues "as a result of frustration" with information technology. The abuses included "swearing at their PC," kicking it, and "bullying the IT department."
A survey conducted by the London-based international research company MORI showed that 40 percent of 1,250 workers surveyed have witnessed colleagues abusing their computer machinery both physically and verbally. Fortunately, at least in the world of AV technology, I think there's hope. Most equipment manufacturers have recognized technorage, either consciously or not. Walking the show floor past at InfoComms, I've notice a recurring theme of simplification. Systems that are simpler to use should reduce technorage, in addition to addressing many people's technophobia. Easy to use is becoming the new marketing mantra, and I think most of us would agree, this is a good thing.
Now if I could just get my PC to display the words I'm thinking instead of the ones my fingers insist on typing, I'd be less tempted to smash it with my fist.