Is Technology Failing to Simplify Life? Tim Ferriss on Economist.com

64 Comments


Do you think technology simplifies or complicates life?

I was recently invited to participate in a debate sponsored by The Economist, and it just went live.

The proposition: If the promise of technology is to simplify our lives, it is failing.

Do you agree or disagree?

There are some fascinating points made by both debaters, and I add a few observations of my own. Be sure to read their “opening statements,” which are what I focus on, before their later rebuttals. Here is the first part of my commentary as a “featured participant”:

I receive 500–1,000 e-mail per day.

To contend with this, I have virtual assistants in Canada and sub-assistants in Bangalore who filter my inboxes using processing rules in Google Docs. Connected via Skype and compensated via PayPal, this team translates a 10-hour task into a 20-minute phone call…

[Read the rest of this one-pager here]

It will be obvious why I voted “pro”.

In order to vote — and I find this ironic — you need to first “register” in the top right of the screen, then get a screen name, then click on “pro” or “con”. Simple. :)

Posted on: March 4, 2008.

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64 comments on “Is Technology Failing to Simplify Life? Tim Ferriss on Economist.com

  1. Hi

    Technology exists & its awesomely impressive.

    We can either let it “use us” or we can *use it* to give us the lifestyle we want. We can’t just sit back and let it come to us & expect it to do all the work for us…

    Like

  2. In the end, It’s not that technology has simplified or brought complexity to our lives. Our lives are still a result of the day to day choices that we make. For example, we could decide to create online automated businesses and free ourselves from payment paperwork etc. due to the advent of online credit card processing. On the other hand, if we owned a restaurant, we could use that same technology to process more orders and serve more customers in the same time, making us busier cooking, ordering supplies, etc..

    So really we have simply given more choices, which is why life-style design is so important! So keep leading us to the best of it! Thanks Tim

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  3. Whoever said technology would simplify my life?

    I use tech to complicate my life and make it better. Not simpler.

    If I just used a few tech tools, it could simplify my life. An answering machine simplified it. And a fax machine. But those are very 1/2 duplex technologies.

    Much of what unsimplifies life are the more interactive tech. And e-mail, but I consider e-mail more than 1/2 duplex, maybe 3/4 duplex because you can get an interactive rhythm sometimes….

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  4. Love the the 4hww!!! In my quest to become a member of the NR I’ve had successes and setbacks… One thing I would love to know is how does someone in sales truly implement these principles and become mobile?
    Am I looking at a career change or does anyone have good advice?
    Thanks.

    Like

  5. Who said technology is simplifying lives? Why is that even a desirable feature? If we wanted to simplify our lives, we could go back to the Hunter-Gatherer culture (well, not really anymore..) .. What’s great about technology is how it empowers us! Group communication and organization and freedom of information afford us all greater potential and realization of that potential. And the means by which we can organize our society by our own terms, not the terms of the broadcast establishments.

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  6. Today technology has simplified life for human, in India every one carrying mobile today including sweeper & drivers and allow people to stay connected in difficult situation like recent Mumbai Attack by Pakistani Terrorist.

    Staff of Taj hotel sent out SMS to all who were outside and lot of people rescued thanks to technology.

    On business we developed website for a client and have 50,000 members where she doesn’t need staff to manage it. System is designed that with her 3-4 hours of efforts she can maintain it online.

    Today technology has simplified life for human, in India every one carrying mobile today including sweeper & drivers and allow people to stay connected in difficult situation like recent Mumbai Attack by Pakistani Terrorist.

    Staff of Taj hotel sent out SMS to all who were outside and lot of people rescued thanks to technology.

    On business we developed website for a client and have 50,000 members where she doesn’t need staff to manage it. System is designed that with her 3-4 hours of efforts she can maintain it online.

    Like

  7. Tim,

    Spectacular book, and great resources on how to maintain a simple, low information diet. To add to your list:

    – consumersearch.com: they summarize product reviews; their “fast answers” save TONS of shopping time

    – yelp.com: although most used for restaurant reviews, this helps me find everything from auto mechanics to CPAs

    – Unlocked Sony Ericsson C901: small, capable camera + phone without the typical smartphone distractions; 5mp + xenon flash

    – lastpass.com: great password management software

    – padmapper.com: great housing search tool

    – mint.com: monitor/analyze all your financial accounts from a single location

    Cheers!

    Like

  8. Would love to see the rest of your commentary, but the link is dead, a search on ferris at economist brings up only “Kicking Ass in an Unflat World,” and a quick google brought nada. Perhaps someone in Bangalore can find a new link?

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  9. Technology does simplify modern life. We can argue about the fruits there thereof. Put differently, cars of today are getting faster and faster. That is a fact, but the question would be, is it good? Well one may say yes because we reach our destinations faster. But then one may argue and say, but it is too dangerous now with faster cars than 50 yesrs ago.

    So technology simplifies modern life. Today one can talk with someone oversees as if they were together, to crown it, with more than one person at the same time. That simplifies life. Another example, we speak of nuclear weapons today, that are likely to destroy the whole country in one second. This means that there will be no soldiers carrying guns and cannons any more. One sits in the office on a suit and tie and destroys the whole nation at press of a button. That is simple, the results may not be good for a target, but for the attacker, it is a different story.

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  10. Tim,

    You might want to go through some of your old blog posts and fix some of the broken outbound links you have featured.

    Like the one in this post that goes to the Economist website. It’s broken.

    Byron

    Like