Thursday, April 8, 2010

Technology Failures

With new and exciting technology being developed every day we are always being promised life changing inventions. It seems that for every success we are treated to an array of failures. Some expected and some that seem like such a good it is hard to see where it went wrong!

Doomsday Project - The BBC Doomsday Project was a partnership between Acorn Computers, Philips, Logica and the BBC and was designed to mark the 900th anniversary of the original doomsday book. It was compiled over a period of three years and was published in 1986 after having over one million people contribute to the project. The material included maps, colour photos, statistical data, videos, virtual reality tours of major landmarks and the entire 1981census.

This information was stored on specially adapted laserdiscs with the intention that future generations could then look back on the material in years to come, however the laserdisc standard never lasted and, as such, it is close to impossible to find a machine nowadays capable of reading the code. Eventually a project was started to emulate the old system and publish the information to the Internet however the gentleman who was reverse engineering the project suffered an untimely death and as a result the Doomsday Project website remains offline.

The Internet Fridge - Whilst it may be too early to say it will never take off, the Internet Connected Fridge has been over ten years in development and currently doesn't show much promise of taking over from a traditional fridge. I've personally never been too keen on having my kitchen inventory purchased each week by my fridge automatically.

I would like to think that even in the 21st century individuals find at least a little pleasure in selecting what they would like to eat in the following week instead of having their fridge do it for them. I also am not too enthusiastic about a machine deciding that because I had strawberries and cream after tea this evening that I would want the same thing delivered to your doorstep as a replacement.

Paperless Office - There has been talk of a paperless office for years; creating a world where printers are redundant and all information is stored digitally. Fortunately for us here at Refresh Cartridges (but somewhat unfortunate for our environment) in reality the modern office is a long way from being paperless. I feel a lot safer with paper and when faced with a large report it is bizarrely easier to read it off sheets of bleached bark than from a monitor.

Video Phones - The longest conversation on a video phone I have ever had lasted two seconds and was a test that my new mobile phones SIM card supported 3G. Despite attempts to pitch video calls to the general public (a major part of high speed networks now being pushed by mobile operators) but the service still seems to struggle to find a welcoming audience. There are no real technological restrictions preventing all of us from video calling, it seems that people simply don't seem to want to see who they're calling.

Chris Holgate writes a weekly article of all things tech related. He is a director and copyrighter of the online computer consumables business Refresh Cartridges who sell cheap ink cartridges, toner cartridges, computer hardware and other computer consumables online. An archive of his work can be found at

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