All this technology is a mod con
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.