Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mix n Match

So last week I wrote about why there are so many reasons to become an engineering major. Well here's something for the non-engineering majors out there. Computers are more than just ones and zeroes. In case you haven't noticed, technology has creeped into every part of our daily lives. I sound like just about every other tech article out there right about now but hear me out:

Take a computer. It could be anything from your desktop computer, to your laptop, netbook, iPhone, Android, smartphone, watch, XBOX, PS3, Wii... etc. What makes one computer better than the other? Hardware? Software? User friendliness? How you market your computer?

It's all of the above. There is a lot that goes into technology. In fact, the other day, I was talking with my roommate about how much psychology goes into designing web pages. When a person is interfacing with a computer, there is nothing there but you and your computer. Why do you think some people take it so personally when one operating system is bashed or another operating system is praised? The connection that happens between a person and his/her computer is one of a sort of friendship, or pet perhaps. You choose your species (aka manufacturer), then you choose your breed (Operating System), then you choose your nick knacks (your software). You customize your technology for the way it most pleases and benefits you in life. That's why when someone says, "iPhones suck!" so many people take offense to it, because despite how pathetic it sounds, these little devices play an intimate role in people's lives.

Even more, my entire life is on my phone, and to go further, my phone is customized to my personality. As technology becomes smarter and smarter, humans have a choice on what technology to utilize and how to utilize it. Someone insulting your Windows computer for crashing all of the time will not hurt any one's feelings, but I'm saying that a lot of thought goes into designing software and hardware, and how users choose to utilize it. Especially as phones these days get better and better, they seem to be little portals to our personalities.

When I was sitting in Humanities class one day, a kid's cell phone went off real loud, and was playing the Captain Planet theme as his ringtone. These things are more and more becoming an icon for who we are. It's like choosing an avatar for a video game or a logo for yourself, you want it to represent yourself. That kid's Captain Planet ringtone was hilarious for sure, but the poor guy had the teacher making fun of him saying "Boy, I bet that's embarrassing! What is that some sort of cartoon??" I still laughed loudly at that though. haha. It even played the entire theme, because he couldn't get it out of his pocket for so long. Good times...

Anyway, the reason some companies and web sites do so well (despite how they may be lacking in other fields) is because of the design approach that the company takes with their proudct(s). Often times the design is radical, different, human, and connects with people. I've heard Apple's developers described as artists, rather than programmers. On a certain level, that may be true. It just goes to show that computers are not just ones and zeroes. There's more behind that monitor than you first may realize. In fact, hiding behind everything worth loving - your phone, computer, flash drive, TV, couch, bed, steak dinner, car, internet, desk, chair, clothes, video games, and significant other, is a clever engineering major. I guarantee it