The Sock Principle of Technology

by | Nov 8, 2021 | ICT4D |

the sock principle

Growing up on a farm, I had work socks, school socks, and dress socks. Work ones were the thickest. School ones usually started out white, but quickly had grass and mud stains added. And the dress socks were thin, usually black, and the least worn.

Occasionally, my sock drawer would be very low and I would have to wear my dress socks. They felt and looked funny to me. And when I wore them in my wellies or work boots, they would not last long. One wear and holes appeared everywhere. I was ‘hard’ on clothing and did not understand the point of dress socks.

One size did not fit all occasions for my socks growing up. And the same can often be said about the technology we choose to use. Different teams of people come together creating similar technology. Simprints, Element, iRespond, Facebook, and others all created biometrics technology. ODK, SurveyCTO, LMMS, MS Forms, Google Forms, and others all created data collection software. The same can be said about all types of software – from games, to Artificial Intelligence, to data analytics, to payment providers. There are many types and options avaiable.

Some are built for high speed traders where the tenth of a millisecond matters and ultra fast broadband delivering a tenth of a millisecond speed is available. Some are built for context which is mostly offline and dial up is considered fast.

However, just like my sleek, thin, dress socks didn’t last a day when I wore them in my work boots. So too, does software and technology designed in ultra fast, urban, environments not last in a dial up context. It does not matter how shiny you make it, it won’t last a day.

The simple, yet often overlooked, sock principle of technology is that context matters. Consider it. Look beyond the shiny new toy and the marketing faff.

The choice is up to us.

Photo by billow926


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