Brave New World: Technophobia Is the Biggest Barrier to the Internet Revolution, Writes Becky Hogge

By Hogge, Becky | New Statesman (1996), June 12, 2006 | Go to article overview

Brave New World: Technophobia Is the Biggest Barrier to the Internet Revolution, Writes Becky Hogge


Hogge, Becky, New Statesman (1996)


If you've ever watched helplessly as your computer, which was functioning quite happily five minutes ago, deletes all your e-mails, photos and documents seemingly for no other reason than its deathly, machine-like whim, you'll know a feeling akin to being brought face-to-face, quietly, with the reality of your own mortality. There is a reason for this, and it's the dirty little secret of the professional class.

We are all technophobes. In most offices, you'll find the technology department hunkered down in a dingy basement, right next to the stationery store, where nobody has to think about it until they need it. And, like the paper and filing cabinets that corporate intranets were supposed to replace, we expect the technology we work with day to day to behave like a blank sheet on to which we can inscribe our will. We don't stop to consider the significant differences between a typing carbon and cut-and-paste.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Little wonder that when the machines whose intelligence we so insult bite back, we squeal and call the helpdesk. Many a mild-mannered information worker has winced and looked away as her technology support, in a rare outing from the basement, calls up a strange world of black screens and square, green type, probing the machine for the whereabouts of lost files, revealing command histories that detail abuse and neglect.

Unknown to anyone, these basement-dwellers have another, secret life.

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Brave New World: Technophobia Is the Biggest Barrier to the Internet Revolution, Writes Becky Hogge
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