All this tech­nol­ogy is a mod con

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

THE con­cept of hav­ing a mu­seum or mu­se­ums of un­der­wa­ter art in the wa­ters off Townsville are in­ter­est­ing, even ex­cit­ing, for re­cre­ational divers here and the world over.

That the dis­plays of art­works and sculpted fig­ures, made from casts taken from peo­ple, are meant to pro­mote ed­u­ca­tion, preser­va­tion and con­ser­va­tion of co­ral reefs and the cat­a­strophic im­pacts of cli­mate change is wor­thy.

Un­for­tu­nately, few peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate or care to ad­mit we are killing the reef.

But I think sug­ges­tions th­ese mu­se­ums will some­how re­vive the city’s tourism in­dus­try by pos­si­bly as much as dou­bling re­cre­ational visi­ta­tion are wide of the mark.

Hav­ing re­ported on the af­fairs of Townsville I have seen the suc­cesses and fail­ures of tourism.

There has been the de­vel­op­ment and re­moval of the float­ing ho­tel on the reef, the ar­rival and with­drawal of in­ter­na­tional flights by Qan­tas and the fail­ure of in­vest­ment into in­fra­struc­ture needed to sup­port the in­dus­try.

Com­mu­ni­ties here ac­tively fought or re­sisted large scale tourism de­vel­op­ment.

Coun­cils led by peo­ple in the La­bor Party cam­paigned against high rise ho­tels on the Strand and still do.

I be­lieve th­ese are the key rea­sons Townsville missed the boat on tourism.

They are still the rea­sons peo­ple com­plain you can walk the length of the Strand and only find a few res­tau­rants and cafes.

Qan­tas long ago re­lo­cated its flights and its in­vest­ment into ho­tels to Cairns.

The Cairns es­planade is alive with tourists, ho­tels and res­tau­rants.

When you com­bine th­ese rea­sons with the high rates levied on ho­tel op­er­a­tors here — the high­est in the State — you be­gin to get a pic­ture of how ar­guably the pret­ti­est town on the Queens­land coast with beaches sur­pass­ing Cairns or the Whit­sun­days has been shack­led in the de­vel­op­ment of tourism and ser­vices.

Per­haps one day th­ese at­ti­tudes will change. I hope they do.

I’m in favour of high rise on the Strand. Are you? WHY can we put peo­ple on the moon but still de­sign wash­ing ma­chines that in­sist on beep­ing end­lessly when we’re busy watch­ing Ninja War­rior and have no de­sire to hang the clothes out?

And why does my dish­washer have 75 dif­fer­ent wash set­tings – along with leak de­tec­tion and de­ter­gent sen­sors – but noth­ing that makes my kids un­pack it be­fore school like they’re meant to?

Wel­come to the world of smart tech­nol­ogy, which clearly isn’t as in­tel­li­gent as we’d hoped.

For in­stance, I don’t re­ally care that my Te­fal Aqua Speed Power iron is “self- clean­ing”. Why isn’t it self- iron­ing? Now, that’s a gadget I could use.

And I don’t care that you can get hair­brushes th­ese days that of­fer a “holis­tic hair as­sess­ment” us­ing a mi­cro­phone, gy­ro­scope and ac­celerom­e­ter. Un­til it works out a way to dis­guise the Vegemite stripe at the top of my blonde hair for less than $ 200, I’m not in­ter­ested.

Mel­bourne’s great train dis­as­ter, which saw the en­tire net­work halted on Thurs­day due to a com­puter fault, brought the pit­falls of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy home to me this week.

Like many of you, no doubt, I am get­ting by with as lit­tle in­for­ma­tion as I can. I’ll only up­date soft­ware when pro­grams stop work­ing. I’ll only up­grade my phone when the net­work is turned off. And I want only enough knowl­edge about a de­vice to be able to use it, not fully use its 248 func­tions and set­tings.

Of course, this is a gen­er­a­tional is­sue. My chil­dren are way ahead of me when it comes to tech­nol­ogy. They don’t even type com­mands in their phones any­more.

We’re in the car and I say: “Kids, I’m driv­ing, so can you send a text to my mum ask­ing her to come over for din­ner?”

So they yell out: “Hey Siri, text Grandma. Do you want to come to din­ner?”

Me: “I could have done that my­self.”

Them ( in self- sat­is­fied tone): “Yes, but you didn’t, did you?”

My kids laugh at my clumsy onedigit tex­ting, in­abil­ity to re­mem­ber to close apps once I’ve used them and re­fusal to use func­tions like low- power mode to save my phone’s bat­tery.

And I, in turn, marvel at their abil­ity to re­mem­ber all their friends’ par­ents’ Wi- Fi pass­words, to have 2450 “friends” on so­cial me­dia and know how to stream Net­flix through the PS4 us­ing a lap­top and a Fox­tel re­mote con­trol.

As some­one who doesn’t know my Echo from my Roomba from my WeMo, I am sick of tech­nol­ogy for tech’s sake.

And I don’t want a Wi- Fi con­nected scent dis­penser.

Just be­cause it’s pos­si­ble tech­no­log­i­cally, it doesn’t mean it should ac­tu­ally be made.

Take, for in­stance, the Smart­tress, which is a “smart” mat­tress that sets your phone off when it’s be­ing used for sex, pre­sum­ably by peo­ple other than you. The motto is: “If your part­ner isn’t faith­ful, then at least your mat­tress should be.” The app even sends the mat­tress’s owner a 3D im­age that shows how the bed is be­ing used from the side and the front. Hmmm, could be a lit­tle dis­tract­ing in busi­ness meet­ings.

Clearly, things are get­ting way out of con­trol.

No, I don’t want a fake cock­roach that I can con­trol with my mo­bile phone, an emer­gency mous­tache “sealed for ex­tra fresh­ness” or an air­con­di­tioned tie.

I don’t need a pod- based tor­tilla maker, an “in­tel­li­gent” floss dis­penser that frowns at me to re­mind me to floss, or a hump­ing dog USB stick.

And I def­i­nitely don’t need to buy my kids a smart piggy bank called a “pork­fo­lio” that alerts them when I’ve raided it again for beer money.

If my ap­pli­ances re­ally were smart, they’d know they need to dumb it down for me.

Th­ese days, the gap be­tween the ca­pa­bil­ity of the tech­nol­ogy we have in our homes and the abil­ity of most peo­ple op­er­at­ing the de­vices has never been greater.

Sys­tems de­signed to make life eas­ier for us all don’t work be­cause we didn’t read the man­ual when we first bought it and haven’t ever fully un­der­stood what all the but­tons do.

All those func­tions and sen­sors are a waste be­cause we for­get to charge the phone that au­to­mates it, can’t re­mem­ber the pass­word that ac­ti­vates it and haven’t ever changed the bat­ter­ies.

And when things go wrong, our first port of call is to turn the de­vice off, wait a bit, then turn it back on again. Now I come to think of it, I’m pretty sure that’s what hap­pened to the trains.

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