Face it. A lot of technology and what’s on the Internet is just a plain old waste of time. There are some advances, however, that have managed to fill needs we didn’t even know we had. How in the world did we ever live without these?
1. iPod. An obvious first pick. But I seriously have no clue how anyone who likes music can live without one of these babies (or another quality mp3 player). I have vague memories of not hating my life before I got one, but then again it’s hard to be sure. Recently my old iPod Mini bit the dust and it took me about a month to replace it. My brand spankin’ new 80 gig iPod Video finally came a few weeks ago, and I was complete again. Because of the iPod, the music industry finds itself needing to be reinvented. Digital music downloads (fully and, ahem, partly legal) have become ubiquitous and podcasting is now a popular new information medium thanks largely to the iPod.
2. TiVo. No longer must we be jerked around by TV programming schedules and advertisers! By letting us choose when we want to watch our favorite shows, TiVo (as do DVRs in general) helps us watch more of the TV we want to watch, while magically seeming to reduce our total time in front of the tube. Huzzah! (Or maybe I’m just fooling myself with the whole “reduce total TV time bit” . . . )
3. MapQuest. Does anyone even remember how they got anywhere, say, ten years ago? Not me. I don’t recall using maps that much, and ten years ago we didn’t all have cell phones like we do today to call from the road. Did we give out a lot more directions to people? I honestly don’t even know. Actually, I tend to use Google Maps these days, but still—MapQuest gets the props for changing the paradigm of travel directions. That we get so upset at the tiniest map error just shows how completely online directions have insinuated themselves into our lives.
4. Netflix. The option never to walk into another Blockbuster alone is amazing! Also, I never realized how lacking my local video stores were in titles until I started looking around online at what the possibilities were. Even if you prefer Blockbuster Online, the movie rental business has been completely revamped in the last several years, and for the better.