I was born in India. While I love being in the States now, some news and conversations really make me think and compare what I have now to what I used to have back in India. Some advancements via technology that may sound trivial to some in developed countries are actually a big freaking deal in developing economies.
As a techie, its super easy to get absorbed in the tech bubble. I don’t mean that bubble. I mean a bubble in which we always think like techies, interact with techies, get feedback from techies and, most importantly, take techies’ views, desires and preferences as proxies for for what normals or mainstream people want or care about.
I’m consciously trying to distinguish a techie’s perspective from a non-techie’s. The realities always have a tough time catching up with the tech world. While we talk about transition from apps to bots, there are people who don’t have access to hundreds of apps that we often take for granted. While we bicker about how some business websites are not yet mobile optimized, there are thousands of businesses that don’t even have a desktop website. Growing up in India and having dealt with a lot of vendors through my tiny design project, I have experienced this first-hand. Things that we dismiss for lack of enough features and take for granted are basic necessities and utilities elsewhere.
As someone who has been curious about technology, worked briefly in venture capital, and a variety of software projects, I have developed a habit of keeping up with what’s happening in the tech world via tech news publications and news aggregators or curating apps. I almost feel like that is a bad habit. It skews my view of looking at the bigger picture. It creates an illusion that the entire world is advancing. And, that is simple not true.
In order to stay grounded in realities and appreciate what we all have the luxury to take for granted, I have decided to do an unscientific study regularly. I pick a group of people from various locations with varied interests and of different age groups. And, I ask them simple questions regarding what sorts of technologies do they use and appreciate in their lives. Over the past week I asked about 25 people how they consume news on a regular basis. These people included Indians, Americans, Canadians, students, athletes, developers, chefs, housewives, retired folks and writers. The most frequent answers were Tv news channel, digital or print versions of legacy publications like The Economist, WSJ NYT etc and Facebook. The results weren’t surprising to me. Most of them didn’t mention an app or a news curator. While this is survey is highly unscientific, it serves it’s purpose. If I were to ask the same question to techies, I would get responses like Twitter, Nuzzel, Pocket, Instapaper, Techmeme, Feedly, Morning and a lot of different news apps or curators. I bet some would have even said chatbots because who likes pulling up an app anymore?
On top of this survey, I have been reading a lot of tech content on The Ringer. Besides having phenomenal writers, it always give educates me about tech stuff from a normal’s perspective. Most of it’s content feels like something that could have written by someone who works outside of the tech world but has some interest in technology. It really gives me a new way of looking at things. And I love that. I’m slowly reducing my consumption of tech publications. And, also moving towards longer reads.
Oh, also, it’s coverage on one of my favorite shows Veep is awesome.