Technology simplifies our lives, right?

Another clean out story. In purging the old equipment to prepare for the Magnus’ move to new office, we came across VCRs, VHS tapes, cassette recorders, cassette tapes, DVD duplicators, and more. These are a history of the technology evolution in our lives. Yet, it was also a reminder of simpler times. When we first started Magnus, and for Melissa, at prior companies, VHS video cameras were state of the art. There were different “grades” of cameras, from “amateur” to “broadcast quality” but ours fell in the class of “prosumer.” We used external microphones and some good cameras to capture the video and audio of attorneys’ presentations and mock jurors’ deliberations on tape. We’d bring those tapes back to the office, create a title sequence, and put them in a tape duplicator to copy. We’d put the tapes in the mail or overnight drop and send them to the client. We were done. As I looked at some of the equipment we purged, I remembered the painful evolution from those good old days and, while admittedly, video quality has greatly improved, in some ways, it did not get easier along the way. When clients wanted DVDs, not VHS tapes, we obliged, but quickly learned how finicky DVD creation can be. Then came digital cameras. They were higher quality, smaller, lighter, and less expensive, but they required more work than ever to come up with a client deliverable item. Hours of downloading files, converting file formats, and then exporting a finished file to a DVD are now required. Sure, editing is easier than with tape, but the bottom line was that more time is required than with VHS. Building a client portal to deliver files was a big step forward, and using things like Dropbox gave us other options. But, when one considers how these basic parts of our work have changed, one realizes how far we have come, and the pain involved in getting here!

I don’t endorse the premise that technology simplifies our lives. Sometimes, it does, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes, there is no noticeable difference between old and new technology within the realm of simplicity.  I don’t mind change; in fact, I thrive on it.  And, it is relatively easy for me to learn new ways of doing things.  Therefore, these issues, which for some people are important in creating a mindset that is adverse to change, are irrelevant to me.  What I object to is not the idea of change, but whether it is necessary and if enacted, will be for the best.  David’s example of the cumbersome process of preparing videos for our clients to watch is an example of technological change that, in my opinion, is more negative than positive.  In the early days of Magnus, we worked on a much higher volume of cases than currently.  Even with the higher volume of cases, and clients, we had no difficulty whatsoever in preparing videos (and accompanying audiotapes) in a timely and efficient manner for our clients to view mock jury deliberations. When a client asked to receive videotapes the day after a research project, we were always able to accommodate this request.  Now, we are fortunate to be able to send our clients videos, via our super secret and highly sophisticated (not to mention highly prone to malfunction) client portal within a week of their mock jury research.  Thus, something that used to be fast and easy is now slow and tedious.  In my opinion, some technology may be new, but it is definitely not improved.

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