Complaining about technology is an ancient tradition

In a similar vein to the ancient tradition of older people complaining about the younger generations, apparently it has also long been the case (since at least around 195BC) that people are grumpy about technology:

The gods confound the man who first found out
How to distinguish hours! Confound him too
Who in this place set up a sundial
To cut and hack my days so wretchedly
Into small portions! When I was a boy,
My belly was my sundial: one more sure,
Truer, and more exact than any of them.
This dial told me when it was time
To go to dinner, when I had anything to eat;
But nowadays, why even when I have,
I can’t fall-to unless the sun gives leave.
The town’s so full of these confounded dials,
The greatest part of its inhabitants,
Shrunk up with hunger, creep along the streets.

Found here: https://www.laphamsquarterly.org/time/hacked-days

What’s interesting to me is that the complaints he (apparently Plautus) has are essentially identical to complaints people have about smartphones today.

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Computer scientist Alan Kay, inventor of the concept of computer windows, famously picked up on the way we understand technology by saying we tend to define it as “anything that was invented after you were born.”

From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology

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I’ve been complaining about technology all morning. We have some new changes at work today. We do the same things but now they are “easier” because of technology. Of course it had worked well without a single hitch (sarcasm).

I like that Alan Kay’s definition too.

Yes, exactly! People complained about living at the mercy of the telephone when it first entered homes over a hundred years ago. Change comes with a learning curve and is annoying at any point in history, but can be very helpful.

This morning I signed in to the Kindle app on my phone, and none of my books will show up.

Oh for the days when books were made of papyrus and rolled up. Oh wait. I mean paper and folded closed. Lol.

Many of the things that we laugh off as ”first world problems” are actually technology problems at root.

As a middle/high school science teacher I’ve had to tell students on multiple occasions that their digital items are not the only technology. I point out the door stop used to prop the door, the pencils they hold in their hands, pencil sharpeners(the ones without batteries) are other examples of technology and it is not something that has a processor and is electronic. In fact I call digital items electronic technology to help them understand they are a category of technology and not the only items which are technology.

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