How has technology made our lives better?

David Pogue is the personal-technology columnist for The New York Times. Each week, he contributes a print column, an e-mail column and an online video. In addition, he writes Pogue's Posts, one of The Times's most popular blogs.  David is also an Emmy award-winning tech correspondent for CBS News, a frequent guest on NPR's "Morning Edition," and a regular on CNBC.

With over three million books in print, David is one of the world's best-selling how-to authors. He is the author or co-author of seven books in the "For Dummies" series (including Macs, Magic, Opera, and Classical Music). In 1999, he launched his own line of complete, funny computer books, the Missing Manual series, which now includes 60 titles.

David graduated summa cum laude from Yale in 1985, with distinction in music, and he spent 10 years conducting and arranging Broadway musicals.

He's been profiled on both "48 Hours" and "60 Minutes." In 2007, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in music from the Shenandoah Conservatory.

  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

David Pogue: How has technology made our lives better? 

I don’t think I’m in any better position to answer that than anybody. Touchtone phones are faster than rotary, e-mail is faster than postal, people have more of a voice on the world stage when they have a blog or they make a pod cast.

And the real question is, why hasn’t technology brought us more free time? That’s a more interesting question to me.

Now that we can check our e-mail in the bathroom or work on our presentation on the subway. Why don’t we have more time at the end of the day because we’re definitely doing stuff faster than when we were typing or sending telegrams.

And I think that’s a quirk of human nature. I think as we create more time, we invent more stuff to fill it up. So we will always be pursuing that unpursuable [sic], unattainable moment of getting that much work done and then stopping because now there’s more stuff both with work and entertainment to fill up the time that we’ve freed up.

My main concern about the blogosphere is its potential to destroy people. When they get the story wrong, when high schoolers say horrible things about somebody else at school and ruin their reputation and ruin their lives, and suicides, and when kids goad their teachers into having an outburst in class and film it on their camera phones and then post it on YouTube. The potential for abuse is huge.

We are not teaching kids as we teach them how to use the internet. We’re not teaching them things like ethics and the permanence of what they put out there and the fact that you can’t confine anything on the internet.

How many candidates have there been whose reputations were soiled or damaged because something they did in one place, like Florida representative Mark Foley having a sex chat with his intern, but oh, it’s just a chat room. No one will ever know.

No. On the internet, anything gets out everywhere or can and it’s there forever. We need to teach this stuff; ethics and etiquette and morals and consequences--because the internet intensifies every one of those things.

 

Recorded on May 15, 2008


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