Monday, 9 May 2022


There was a review of the VW Taigo in the Sunday Times Magazine recently. It’s  a Brazilian model, basically a simplified, old fashioned Golf. No bad thing in a world where there’s a critical chip shortage leading to factory shutdowns and Toyota suffering a stalling of production. 

Volkswagen Taigo review | Car review | RAC Drive


Reviewer Nick Rufford rhapsodises: “it has a mechanical handbrake, a full sized gear shifter plus proper buttons you can operate by touch alone and which make a reassuring click.” He awards the car 5 stars saying it’s great to drive a car with no techno-fumbling; in short what originally made the Golf such a great car.

This isn’t going to be the rant of an old technophobe.  When Bill Gates said:

“The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don't really even notice it, so it's part of everyday life.”

Bill Gates: Elon Musk could make Twitter 'worse' on misinformation

I thought, that’s a nice idea Bill but we do notice it and actually whilst it’s mostly good it’s not always. Not when you’re working on your PC and a notice comes up saying Avast needs to do an update, or an advertisement for Mobility Scooters appears. It’s like being thoroughly engrossed in your office and having the door hammer open and a big, sweating Dennis crashing in saying “Let’s talk about the conference”. Being interrupted is always irritating. 

Let’s look at working from home. It’s reliant on technology. But a part of me is beginning to recognise its disadvantages in human terms. It’s excellent in small doses but it doesn’t begin to replace human contact, body language, laughter and gossip. 


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Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens suggests that Homo Sapiens overtook Neanderthal man, who on paper seemed more likely to succeed, because Homo Sapiens developed gossip. Quiet gossip keeps you up to date. (Gossip on social media is altogether different because it’s shouts rather than  whispers.) Zoom and Teams don’t hack it either although they’re still, occasionally quite useful.

We all need to simplify – or is it just me who wants reductio ad beatitudinem (reduction to happiness)? Do I want a computer in my hand when for day-to-day use I want a phone. Today we have an equivalent of an evolving technological tasting menu. Too much, too many.

Robochef is here with a taste of the future | News | The Times

Then I read about the Robochef that learns to 'taste' food at different stages of the chewing process to check whether it's salty enough. Why? I suppose to take human subjectivity out of the equation. But what a lot of nonsense. 


Me? I want hand-cooked food not techno-grub. I want to eat at old-fashioned Rules where they use egregious quantities of butter to make food taste amazing or at The Ritz with its  wonderful dining room. 


THE RITZ RESTAURANT, London - St. James's - Updated 2022 Restaurant  Reviews, Menu & Prices - Tripadvisor


Technology usually seems to make customer service worse. It shouldn’t but, frustratingly, it does. So technology shouldn’t be part of everyday life, Bill, unless it actually  makes everyday life better.


In my simple life I want a garden to wander around, a library so I can dip into books, and yes a big screen computer with a sensible IT guy (got both of those) occasional laughter-filled lunches, trips to the best of Europe’s cities whilst they’re still there and challenging projects from people I like who want my help. 


This makes me sound as though I’m old and fumbling when it comes to technology. Fair enough. But I can cope and choose what seems to matter. It’s just this urge to remove human contact that seems wrong.


We need to get back to simplicity in life and in work helped, not led, by technology. 


Bill, are you listening? 

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