Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Rant About Whoever Changes MY Computer Stuff

Has this ever happened to you? You start a browser you use all the time or Google a term just as you did yesterday or log into your e-mail and suddenly find yourself in a brand new space? Where everything is now NEW AND IMPROVED and where all the things you had handily at your fingertips and well memorized are now useless?

Twitter just did that. Though the changes are not large, they do manage to bury all the stuff I need. But in other cases I feel almost as if I had been robbed. There I stand, in some imaginary rain, and I haven't got an umbrella! All that learning: gone down the drain. And I'm supposed to be happy about the frequent changes.

I'm beginning to suspect that those who design changes do not take into account the learning curve. Or rather having to crawl up it once again. And again. And again. Learning takes time which is not then available for other things. It's a real cost, and an infuriating one if the changes are not useful to begin with.

Part of my anger comes from not having much choice about those changes. Sometimes the old system will be available for a month or two, but no longer than that. But part of it has to do with how all this clashes with the concept of ownership I have somewhere in my primitive brain.

If I have paid for it, it is mine, right? Imagine buying a couch, using it for a few months, and then waking up one morning to find that someone has changed it to a pair of armchairs while you were asleep. In some gaudy color with horrible tassels along the hems.

Those programs I think I own I really do not own, even when I didn't get them for nothing. All I own is the vague concept of "something to sit on" (to continue with the couch metaphor) and I have no control over its other details unless I discontinue the contract altogether. But all the contracts seem to be the same type, and all the designers seem to be about changing things.

Lest you think I'm a complete stick-in-the-mud, let me hurry to add that changes can be useful and over time they are needed. It's the frequency of the changes which I deplore and the feeling that I have about the costs of learning. I suspect they are completely ignored by whoever it is who keeps changing my computer stuff.