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Emotion and technology

We are an opinionated age. We obsess over it. Who’s opinions you follow define who you are and – that perilous belonging – what tribe you are a part of. We defend our own, and attack those who disagree.

You might think that the world of technology was somewhere resistant to this cult of opinion. Technology, after all, is the product of reason. This iPad that I’m typing on is the joyous result of decades of refinement, polish, understanding, experiment, measurement, definition, enhancement and precision. It is science personified.

And yet all technology, like all products of the human mind, is also a product of choice. Reason forged the plough that opened the furrow which nurtured the crop and fed us; but it was someone’s choice to get up on a cold morning and push that plough to make that particular furrow. No choice, no ploughing – and similarly, no choice, no iPad.

Choice depends on rationality. But it also depends on emotion, on determination, on the will that is required to push an idea from the first concept into the light of existence. And those emotions, that determination, that will, all depend on an opinion: the opinion that the world is right for this, now. That another path, another product, would be wrong, now.

Opinion intrudes into the cold world of technology from the first moment that every product is conceived. Is it such a surprise that so much of what we write about it is also "mere" opinion?

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