I recently installed Windows 10 on my Mac. Don't ask, but it had to be done! This has meant me not only touching the Windows world for the first time in many years but also encountering Microsoft's attempt to design an operating system that works on both a touch devices and conventional computers.
My initial reaction was to recoil in horror. Everything seemed harder than it had to be, logic appeared to be an alien concept to the interface designers, and everything looked so damn ugly!
I knew deep down that a lot of this was to do with unfamiliarity and stuck with it. I kept clicking on things until I worked out how they worked. I looked up videos on YouTube to explain the hard bits. I'm beginning to find my way around.
But what I am also bumping up against is the corporate world and its use of computers. The insistence on standardisation and fitting in. This fetish with uniformity over effectiveness sucks you into an over complicated world of not quite right templates, rigid corporate style guides, and endless hours faffing around rather than thinking or communicating. It is a reflection of the cultures in which the technology is predominantly used. Better that no one says anything interesting or useful than that things look messy or individuated!
I remember when this culture first arrived at the BBC. Countless millions spent on delivering Microsoft Office to everyone so that they could sit in serried ranks, staring at their beige boxes, messing around with PowerPoint or beating each other up with email instead of talking to each other.
It is also a symptom of a wider challenge with technology generally, that people are so passive. It is being done to them. They don't assert themselves over their technology and get it to do what they want it to do. They don't assert their right to use it to say what they want to whoever they want.
Technology is just a tool, and it is our tool. Yours and mine. Not theirs. We need to make the effort to learn what we want from our tools. We need to keep things simple, effective, and personal. We need to be brave and assert our right to do so.