Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst: Using Tech

Have you ever felt angry with your computer? Have you ever ended up in trouble after following your GPS? Do you remember the last time you had to share your presentation, and it wouldn't work?

If you nodded to any of these questions, you're one more victim of technology. Sure, tech resembles magic when it works, but we often depend so much on it that it's hard when it doesn't go as planned. How come they fail so often? And what can we do to prepare for these situations?

Possible Reasons

First, we're going to analyze some reasons that can explain such epic moments of failure.


Technology is about using mind creativity to craft solutions. A typical example is using a stick to feed on termites, which is known as termite fishing. In this case, employing a simple tool solved the problem of how to capture food efficiently.

The bricks used to create contemporary tech still come from our minds but have become increasingly more complex. Behind each project, it's easy to find dozens of solutions that are supposed to work together to solve a set of problems — most of them created by architecture restraints and conceptual limitations — and come up with an outcome. This nano-like ecosystem operates under physics and math laws and relates to a vast number of variables.

Three escalators side by side.
Escalators are a good example of well designed tech.

Communication Flaws

There are three channels of communication used by humans: audible, visual, and tactile. Each channel is subject to many levels of communication failure, regarding the loss of information and noise. Communication issues can lead to several problems, including improper use that leads to wrong or unsatisfying results. The more features embedded into a solution, the more complex the communication becomes. Get a piece of furniture as an example. A poorly written instructions manual will most definitely make you waste many hours to assemble it in place then a well-designed one.

Poor Quality

The crazy race towards growing profits and lower production costs has produced low-quality solutions in some cases. Usually, it's not very hard to find out that everything is wrong with them: design, UX/UI, materials, durability, customer support. Normally, they display appealing prices. Stay away from them. Remember that creating a reasonable product takes time and money. If you believe in a state-of-the-art product that costs as much as a banana, you are only fooling yourself.

The amount of effort and time necessary to coordinate QA tests is proportional to its complexity. Add to this that companies are doubling down on how fast they can go through a project's life-cycle and quickly deploy products into the market, and you will get an appropriate scenario for disaster.

How to Stay Safe (Without Turning Yourself Into a Caveman)

I want to recommend two ways of improving your relationship with tech. First, it is crucial to have the best possible solution available around you. In our global economy, you can access a wide variety of players offering everything from questionable quality to excellent, top-notch products. Understand your problem first and what would be the best outcome for your case scenario, and then go after advice from experts and early adopters of technology. Take some time to read reviews of products that you believe could help you, and don't forget to read reviews from clients. I would also recommend using the scoring method for Amber Case's Calm Technology Checklist that I created. It will give you a sense of how well designed a product is.

Don't be afraid to create an old fashioned and ridiculously simple plan B for you to have as a backup. It might not be that easy or fast to execute - but it will save you if tech fails. For instance, if winter is harsh where you live, install the best heating solution you can afford in your home. But never go thru winter without kindling and wood to start your fireplace so that you will have a plan B in case you yourself for days stranded in a blizzard with no power.

Hoping for the best and planning for the worst doesn't mean you have to be a pessimistic person. Actually, it means that you're connected to reality and ready to respond to any scenario.

So, next time you are leaving on a highway adventure, don't forget to take the old rusty paper map with you.