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Be My Technology Valentine

One year, I was interviewed by a reporter writing an article about me.  She asked me why I loved technology so much.  I paused to try to think of a politically correct answer that was becoming of a Federal CIO.  After a deep breath, I started to answer. I remembered that I was the technology chief of a highly regarded agency known for technology and innovation. 

Finally, I remembered that I promised myself that this was the year for truth, so not wanting to make a liar out of myself, I answered.  I really didn’t like technology all that much.  Maybe I hate it. I’m not sure.  

Valentine’s Day isn’t my favorite day – not bad, but not my favorite either (my favorite is probably April Fool’s Day, thanks to my silly siblings). Maybe I have too many memories of being a geeky, goofy little girl who went to school with Valentine’s Day cards to give out and brought them all back, plus a few from geeky, goofy little boys.  

It occurred to me that my experience then was a lot like it is now.   As a little girl, as it related to Valentine’s Day wishes, I didn’t have what I needed, and didn’t need what I had.  Technology is a lot like that.  When I originally typed this blog, I was looking at an iPad, 2 laptops, a Blackberry, and an iPhone. It begged the question; did I have what I needed?  Or did I really need what I had?

When I was in graduate school, I was writing my thesis on clever ways to compute the Eigenvalues of the hexagon (if you have to ask what that is, it doesn’t matter).  I had a cool new desktop back then with a math co-processor.  But hell if I compute those numerical estimates in my lifetime.  I was so frustrated, and I had a thesis to finish!  But, then for Valentine’s Day, I got a wonderful present from my husband – 256M of memory.  That was a great gift when memory cost a little over a dollar a megabyte.  I had a fast processor, but I needed fast memory.

I ended that week talking to my favorite Luddite, Ed. He had a big old clunky Blackberry brick on his waist.  At the time, I asked him when he would get an iPad.  He came close to cussing me out and challenged me to a race in words per minute with him and his brick.  I promised him that the piece of crap he carried around would break, and then he said the technician has a whole box of old ones ready for him. Yep, Ed had exactly what he needed.

I’ll end this with a wonderful technology love poem, especially for Valentine’s Day:

Beta is dead,

Ed’s Blackberry is Blue,

Technology is sweet,

But not if it doesn’t help you.


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