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Author Topic: How has your technology experience evolved since the pandemic?  (Read 668 times)
Melooon
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« on: August 02, 2023 @858.51 »

A lot has happened over the last few years; but maybe a short recap of some key events; back in 2020 the pandemic started and everyone suddenly found themselves online - there was a huge explosion in online life - metaverses were the next big thing, everyone was in video calls all the time - tech suddenly became the centre of life for many people.

With that extra time people were spending online, there was also a new scrutiny of tech life; people were online enough that they started to become aware of some of the issues that they didn't like and some of the things they felt they missed. So naturally there was a huge explosion in nostalgia, neocities got big, SpaceHey and other funky social platforms.

Everyone was stuck at home, many people were out of work - so there was a lot more time to get into making sites, games and other online hobbies - I think that was a really exciting time for many people to rediscover the web and their relationship with it.

However; all that is in the rear view mirror now; most people are back to normal lives, and they are working again - Frankly I think a lot of people are a bit sick of tech after spending so much time with it - although that might be a generalisation.

Im curious how your journey has been; how have the last 3 years changed you? What was your tech life like before the pandemic, how did it change during the lockdowns and how is it now?
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« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2023 @867.70 »

I've always been a bit of a tech nerd, so I don't think how much I use tech outside of school has changed much. Inside of school, however, I've seen a drastic uptick in technology use. Shortly after the start of the pandemic, they gave all the students school-issued laptops for us to use for video calls. Even after we went back, we continued to hold on to these laptops, and teachers continued to make use of them.

As for my outlook on technology, I'm a programmer. I always have, and always will hold a burning hatred in my heart for all the dumb errors these metal boxes have thrown at me, so I assume that me and many others here wouldn't have seen their outlook altered too greatly.
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2023 @868.25 »

I code for a living. I've been running a personal website of some kind for two decades. Before the pandemic, I suspected that computers and the internet were a mistake. Today I'm looking forward to the Butlerian Jihad.
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2023 @926.28 »

Butlerian Jihad
A Dune reference? :grin: I really should read the books someday - I tried watching the new movie recently but I had to give up after 10 mins :ohdear:

Wow it seems like people are much more jaded than I expected :sad: I know that programming professionally can be a drag (Iv done it!) but if its not a joy anymore, thats a time to make a change! Its a bit like love; you should love what you do, excitedly and giddily until your last day on earth  :4u:
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« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2023 @970.44 »

I was working in hospitality as an event tech. We used so much analog equipment since my place had dated tech. I lost that whole entire field with the shutdown of in-person events. There were multiple companies involved with event tech that made zero dollars in profit for the entire month of April nationwide. My company was sending out emails talking about how the last time they had seen a crisis and long series of event cancellations was when 9/11 happened (I'm in the U.S.) and how they got through it and for us to hold on tight even through our furloughs.

I eventually had to change jobs when it set in that my furlough became indefinite and the live events were not coming back. I ended up in a different and way more "essential" field basically doing the same thing, but internally for the company. So like conferencing and stuff. They also had analog stuff, but the new requirements of the Pandemic forced them to need to upgrade to modern conferencing equipment. I was instrumental in helping them purchase and learn to use the new equipment.

I used to run switchboard physically in rooms. During the pandemic, I ran video switching almost entirely digitally, and broadcast our company's presentations to conferences across the country and overseas. I wasn't even in the room with them. I did it from my office in a separate building down the road. It was so weird to have just a computer with digital boards and digital remote conferencing.

It also left way more room for errors (wi-fi, varying volume levels, resolution and loading problems, human error with logging on to conferences, etc.) It really made me appreciate how comparatively reliable analog technology is. The one thing truly, 100% perfectly made in this universe in my opinion is XLR cables. But even now, the standard is changing to digitally networked audio run over Cat 6 cables to integrate with remote conferencing. Cat cables are known to literally come loose from the plastic ends which can cause audio issues. If you take care of your XLR, it is not as likely to give out before a Cat cable. They're pretty much plug and play. Networked audio requires Power over Ethernet and Dante from what I understand, it isn't quite as plug-and-play as XLR.

I have a musician friend who had the same XLR cables for the last 40 years, and he toured around the country doing gigs with them so they got tossed in and out of the van and across floors. They started to fail earlier this year. That's a darn good product to last that long and work reliably the same every time.

Changes like that made me evaluate how I grew up starting pretty much at the cusp of the analog-to-digital shift, and was immersed in the rise of modern social media and communications. It changed my attitude on quality and whether or not modern tech is really healthy or effective for us. In theory it is great, but we do lose something with each change. I realized I did not like this hyper-digital shift and its physically isolating aspects. I was not a fan of the digital UIs either, both on social media and with digital board operating for events. The digital UIs felt like they were made by an isolated programmer who had never actually seen the way I browse social media or what I need when I operate boards. Especially for the video switching, there were features and terminology that are common sense to people in my industry that were just completely absent or locked behind expensive subscription paywalls, and even then, standard elements were still missing!

Facebook kept breaking itself with so many unnecessary changes. I also recognized in my periods of isolation how unhealthy my browsing habits were. So switching to using places like this forum and my personal static HTML website have made me slow down more, and that's a good thing.

From my last job, I also got to see firsthand how much anxiety people have because of the way technology is constantly changing. If IT made changes to something, it often hindered people from doing their jobs at all. And in the industry I switched to, that was an awful thing, especially if there was an emergency happening. And changes happened often because of updates to prevent security breaches (and we had a lot worth keeping secure) and some changes came directly from Microsoft and many other third party software companies whose software we were dependent on. There was always something like every other day that would break and IT would have to come fix it, or we'd have to call the third party company's IT to fix it.

When I build my personal website, I do not have the same level of tech anxiety. Same for when I use this forum. They're much more static and consistent. I'm not being pushed a bunch of recommended junk that I don't want to see.

The other thing that changed for me was how I viewed digital tracking. Through our digital conferencing software, I could pull excel sheets of every users IPs, exact log-on times down to the millisecond, time zone, email addresses and user names associated with the accounts, location data (longitude and latitude!) etc. I thought that was creepy, and I doubt the average user was truly consciously aware that I had all of that in less than a second from one click. And I saw how IT could do a lot by remotely controlling a computer. They never gave us the genuine full details of how much control or what exactly the company lock software would track on your personal phone if you set up even just the Microsoft Word app on your phone, or your email. The level of micromanagement and data tracking capability that is available now... I firmly believe it is easy to abuse and is not of any tangible benefit for workers. I think it only increases mistrust from employees and employee anxiety. And I think that is helping to contribute to the gig economy and higher employee turnover rates.

I want to enjoy new tech and not sound so jaded! But my experiences have made me question things a lot more. I think we should be embracing analog tech and nostalgia as a viable alternative, or lower amounts of tech.
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« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2023 @242.47 »

Someone else here who has worked with computer technology most of their working life. The pandemic didn't slow me down at all. So long as I have a stable internet connection, I can work anywhere, not even on the same continent as the servers I'm using.

Things like closed-circuit remote cameras for conferencing and events have been around for decades. They're a lot easier to use now - analog joysticks to control them vs almost hands-off self tracking. By the time things got back to normal we were running our day-long seminars remotely with barely a glitch.

The people I felt sorry for were our end-users. I'm not IT support and I know they were busy but before we were all told we'd be working remotely, people were coming to see me, some literally close to tears, because they were expected to use technology they'd barely heard of let alone knew how to use. Some of them must have had a traumatic couple of weeks learning how to do what was expected of them.

It wasn't even an age thing, just that people were being told to use technologies and work in a completely different way they were used to.
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« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2023 @300.87 »

Internet stays this distant thing. Real life is more exciting to most people. And probably that's the takeaway for most people experiencing the last years. They want the real life, real interaction. Especially the pupils, who now had to experience that an awful lot of boring stuff happens in front of screens. I've heard many of them are fed up with computers and want to go for other, less-techy fields. Using smartphones instead of computers in their daily life will push this trend even further.

By the way, if that's not a sign to get into IT... because the young people won't be the computer freaks that they used to be. If you're 17 now and know how to format your SSD for example, you're the boss.

Personally, my takeaway from the last three years is rather unreleated to tech, because my computers always have been here, always will be probably. It's rather the human side, that changed, with many, many unpleasant experiences in the last years. I'm picking my people very carefully now. And celebrate the ego, which allows me to work on my own without having to look left or right. So I witnessed how being an egocentric asshole is a rather great thing in those difficult times.

Some of them must have had a traumatic couple of weeks learning how to do what was expected of them.

That also shows, how lots of end users really need proper social interaction. Maybe that's even the main reason for them to have fun at work? Home Office is a good experience for a handful of people, but not for all.
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« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2023 @470.89 »

The pandemic made me reconsider some views or advice I/we had given out in the past when I had modded a subreddit dedicated to stop internet/smartphone addiction.

I think we had created a culture that idealized very drastic steps and the ones doing the most drastic changes were celebrated by the community. People looked up to others who had no social media, no smartphone and just a feature phone, who cancelled the internet at home and just used it at the local library, who stopped owning a PC, etc. and there was this push to not just use your tech responsibly or find good hobbies involving it, but not to use it at all - move away from tech, do as much as possible offline, stop digital hobbies and start analog hobbies instead.
I think nowadays, digital wellness, digital detox, addiction, dopamine etc. is in everyone's mouth and you can find a million articles about that, but back then, no one knew what it was and we kinda helped popularize it all. By now it seems to be common sense that time away from online being needed or the addictive designs present is real, but back then we were kinda looked at and treated as insane people who just imagined that all and online use was entirely unproblematic. It's kind of crazy to see the shift of (online) public opinion within 5 years.

I thought that what we recommended and aimed for was fine or even beneficial back then, but in retrospect, it was a harsh reaction to a new challenge of humanity (how to handle the internet, the information flood, online harassment, addictive design and dark patterns) and harsh climate online. The pendulum swinging the other way for us, basically. There was a lot of black and white thinking.
We made it seem as if the only real way to do it is to delete all your accounts online, sell your PC, cease internet online and then live a completely offline life, and anything on the way to that is not quite there yet and you're still addicted or not living your best life.

The pandemic made me realize that the internet and tech is by now too intertwined with our daily life for most people to reasonably live like that, and most probably shouldn't, either. It can be important to be at least somewhat tech-savy and keeping up with it for your own personal education, entertainment, advocating for yourself and others, gaining resources that have been moved online, finding community, and being able to work. Not doing so can threaten to leave you in the dust in regards to employment, socializing, and growing as a person. Maybe it shouldn't be like that, but I think it sadly is.
It seems to be if you wanna make the most of your life and take the chances you've been given and be aware of all the options you have, it is not that smart to completely discard such a huge invention in our lives that most others use and depend on.

Because then, things like the pandemic happen. Your offline life basically stops or takes a huge hit.
We had offered a huge list of offline activities and hobbies, and almost all of them are affected by lockdowns and the risk of exposure. No more clubs and classes to go to, no more cinema and zoo, lots of volunteering stopped and funds got taken away, the libraries closed, no more cafés or restaurants, being unable to visit others at their homes.
While other people got to move on semi-affected and maybe moved their work to home, had video calls and Zoom conferences with their classes and friends/family, continued reading, gaming, coding, writing, studying on their digital devices, the ones who had really shifted most of their life offline and done away with tech must have felt incredibly lonely. Not just that, now they were pressured to either accept this or let "the enemy" back into their life. This is the price you pay for bandaid solutions that are harsh and extreme, and demonize something; instead of learning how to live with it and take a measured approach which enabled you to still have it while having a good relationship with it, you pushed it away entirely; but now it creeps back into your life in unintended ways, and you have to figure out how to have a non-addictive relationship to it on top of everything else that goes on. It's incredibly hard, when it didn't have to be.

Before the pandemic, I had no working computer at home (just a non-functioning corpse of it, wouldn't turn on anymore), just a PS4 and my smartphone and an old tablet. I used the internet for e-mail, banking, and recipes. My Steam was unused because of no functional PC. I had no accounts anywhere anymore besides that and also had no Discord anymore (had deleted my account from 2016). It was alright for me this way, but only because I saw so many people through work, the trade school I went to, and dating apps. Otherwise it would have been pretty lonely, since I had just moved into the area and knew no one there.
At the start of it, I thankfully made the move to buy a laptop to start PC gaming again. That saved me a lot of stress as the pandemic really took off and we were moved home completely, both work and classes. Sadly throughout the pandemic, I found myself remaking some accounts and spending unhealthy amounts of time on there, but frankly, what else was there to do anyway? But it definitely harmed my mental health, sleep cycle, my view of others and all that. But on a positive note, at least I met my current girlfriend :4u:

It took a lot of work and time to climb out of all that again - because I had to climb out of the black and white thinking of the community (that I had stopped modding in 2019 iirc) while also climbing out of the addictive nature of some of the sites and services I was using. My tech use had been feeling like it was steered by other people and not me - external events and mandates, dark patterns, online stalkers, and the subreddit's values. That's fighting both sides of the spectrum, basically.

Nowadays I am pretty happy with where I am at. I think I am better with deciding what is worth my time, what's healthy, and how I wanna use it. Things don't really suck me in like that anymore, and there is this natural being-tired/bored-of-it feeling that limits my use or time on things without me having to block anything or consider not using a device at all. I know myself better now and I have simply grown and changed. I am glad that the pandemic made me realize the above things, and also that it has made some services more accessible, and gave my employer the last push to stop gatekeeping home office to mothers and carers of disabled family members only.

I am sometimes annoyed that after working on the computer the entire day, I am also studying at an online university, then socializing online with friends, coding my site, and checking sites - so sitting on the screen the entire day. But that's the life I chose and it isn't super bad. At least I exercise and walk outside too, and go to cafés again, and have people visit me :ha:.
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« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2023 @943.01 »

A Dune reference? :grin: I really should read the books someday - I tried watching the new movie recently but I had to give up after 10 mins :ohdear:

Yep, it's a Dune reference. And if you thought the movies were hard to follow, you're gonna love the books.

Wow it seems like people are much more jaded than I expected :sad: I know that programming professionally can be a drag (Iv done it!) but if its not a joy anymore, thats a time to make a change!

I'm assuming that you mean well, but I don't find this helpful. I became a programmer because as a writer and musician I knew that I wasn't pretty enough to marry into money so I'd have to get a day job and earn some myself. I was never particularly enchanted with programming; I just happened to have a talent for it, it pays better than sweeping floors and scrubbing toilets, and I was able to get a job coding without a college degree.

So, programming was never "a joy" for me in the first place. The work itself is tolerable enough, but the meta-work surrounding professional programming is what burned me out. Whoever told me that as a programmer I wouldn't have to be a "people person" was a liar.

As for the stuff stuff I love doing? I know better than to try to monetize my hobbies. It's a good way to ruin them. Besides, I already tried commercially publishing my fiction and learned the hard way that I don't really have the patience to run my own small business.

Its a bit like love; you should love what you do, excitedly and giddily until your last day on earth  :4u:

I would love to be so privileged, but I'm not. I am just privileged enough to be able to earn six figures messing around with computers for a living, even if the work often feels like building cathedrals on quicksand.

Nevertheless, I keep building my personal website with shell scripts and a makefile because it lets me be a complete cowboy coder and not harm anybody but myself. I do it for the same reason I write sf: it's my work done my way, and nobody else gets a say in it.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2023 @946.56 by starbreaker » Logged


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« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2023 @85.34 »

I'm assuming that you mean well, but I don't find this helpful.
I do mean well, but I'd never try to be helpful :wink:



Perhaps if I explain my own pandemic story! 2020 was a wild year for me; 6 months before the pandemic Id quit my job to follow a makeshift dream of being a game designer; Id sold my possessions, took out a loan and moved to another country. It went well at first; but in early 2020 it had derailed, I was in counselling for mental distress, and I was not lightly to pass my course - then the pandemic came and it was GLORIOUS :grin:

It was like getting a second shot at life; I could sleep all day; our grades were bumped up so I easily passed my course; I was free to make the things I wanted to make - I loved lockdown, I loved everything being online, I loved the time to get into weird hobbies like making mixtapes and collecting minidiscs, I loved the enthusiasm and excitement and risk out there in the world and the fact that everyone had to do the same, so there was no judgment. That joy boiled out of me into the first Ozwomp games, and (groan) I even had a romance that started on Twitch.

By September though I had to move back to Ireland and it all came crashing down again; some family events triggered a very dark time; and all I had to escape from it was a laptop. At the start of 2020, Id pretty much abandoned my website, by the end of 2020, it had become the driving force in my life.

The game design career had more or less flopped; it was an impractical dream from the start I guess; it took a long time to let go of the dreams I had back then, but homepages and the community around them offered a path to something new; that felt exciting and important - and for me led to a tenuous but so far somewhat viable career as a net artist - not something Id ever planned, expected or even known existed!

All of that led me to justify investing in better tech, in the tools I could use to make better work. I suppose in a way - I went into the pandemic as a consumer and came out of it... whatever the opposite of a consumer is :tongue: The real change though was learning to take novelty seriously, it was letting go of what I perceived as a realistic approach to life and allowing whimsy to take the driver's seat.

I came out of the pandemic excited about technology because I'd regained some control of its place in my life; I'd lost everything Id clung to, and it had been ok. Somehow that reset my sense of the role of humans and technology in my mind, I became aware that the web and everything around us is part of a chain that goes back to the first stone tools and may extend far into the future and its completely intertwined with the story of our species; its cruel that we can't live long enough to see more than a few decades of it, but also just wow that we see it at all.

I regret every day that I wasn't excited to make new things; and I don't ever want to forget how sublime it is to be here, now, with the resources we have to capture so many stories as they wait like vapour in the shadows  :defrag:

I can't ever truly convey that feeling; none of it makes me a better person; I have no interest in helping anyone; I don't even think anyone else should ever understand what I mean or care about it; but I love expressing it all the same :grin:
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« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2023 @687.81 »

@Shevek:
Interesting topic. Can one survive nowadays through rejecting modern ways of communicating?

I'd say the battle of concepts is on. All I can see is, that you still can get around without using a smartphone or social media. Might become more of a niche thing, but you'll find people out there who know about the qualities of a proper face-to-face conversation.

Being old-style can even work out on the business side as well. It's important to try out things in that regard, different regions and different kinds of cities as well (big city - small city - east - west - north - south).

If you present your view on things openly and discuss it, always with both sides (boss-employee) in mind, some will reject you, but some will accept you as well. Now, 2023, some options like Home Office are better displayed on the table, but everything else is back to normal I think.

Some companies, especially those who are shaken up by the last three years, are highly desperate to hire people, really anyone. People became a rare "good" (evil word, economy speech). The workforce market is empty in many areas. That should be used mercilessly to your own advantage and nobody will dare to make it the companies Whatsapp chat mandatory.

A rather interesting question would be about the facts, if the always-online communication actually makes the work more productive. Which I highly doubt. (Can't proof it of course...)

@Melon:
Tough story, therefore inspiring. But isn't it awful that of all the game-developers out there, you only hear of the ones who make it. But what's with the majority, those who fail and are left in the dust, weeping about their shattered dreams? Those stories have to be heard as well.

The "loan" sounds dangerous to be honest. That kind of pressure would have ripped me apart at day 1. Did you try and study game design? I've heard that this is only possible on private universities. Being expensive of course.

The opposite of a consumer is a maker. Someone who creates stuff (up to a point, where there simply is no time left to consume anything). Glad you chose the hard, but fulfilling path! Bringing this beautiful message board to us for example. There should be made more films out of those comeback stories instead of superheroes becoming millionaires at 25.
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« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2023 @828.53 »

I went to university to study Graphic Design right as the pandemic started, It's funny because uni to me was going to be this "time to re-invent myself" kind of thing, but I ended up spending about twice as much time on a computer than I normally did before! I was quite the burnout before uni and was hoping for a change. I'd wake up in my 5x10 room, roll out of bed 5mins before class on my laptop and then play WoW for the rest of the day and it honestly made me really bummed out. On-top of that I also did a paper on Alt-right activity in internet culture and read a lot of modern philosophy like Simulation and Simulacra by Baudrillard etc etc and just became SOOO jaded just like so many other people's stories. I, at one point just despised tech so much I felt like I was imprisoned by it and couldn't escape it! I lived in Wales at the time and their covid rules were way more strict than England's (where I am from). which didn't help at all.

that was until, funnily enough I discovered the Yesterweb and ofc Melonland!! Reading a lot of manifesto's felt good to affirm how I felt about the internet. It'd been a huge part of my life (as I'm sure you may have read in my previous posts) and I hated seeing it through this lens of doom and gloom and it really gave me the space and the rationale to figure out how I truly felt. I decided to do my Dissertation thesis on "nostalgia in web design" and I coded my very first website and I fell in love with the process of coding! I began practicing things like P5 and building stuff in HTML and CSS.

I fell in love with this concept of code being an art form and a webpage being the canvas. I also loved reading about concepts like "virtual worlds" and these budding communities surrounding these conversations. Technology is a tool to be harnessed, not to be oppressed by, And now that covid is "gone" I have the best of both worlds, I was finally able to socially flourish and still enjoy time on my computer.

I honestly feel so dumb that I had never tried it before, I always thought of coding as this genius level skill that's unapproachable to mere mortals like me. Oh well, one of my favourite quotes is "The best time to start something was 10 years ago, the second best time is now" . I'm now looking to begin a career (hopefully) as a Web dev! I am somewhat pensive about the idea of working from home, I don't enjoy it as all and my potential career has a lot of remote work. I'll need to figure something out! In summary, post-covid I have a greater outlook on tech and I look forward to learning more code-y things!! :chef:  I am an optimistic fella (now)

TLDR; bad, bad then good
« Last Edit: August 04, 2023 @835.14 by Absentmind » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2023 @775.80 »

I think that on the one hand, I might be on tech more often (which I'm trying to stop) since COVID, but on the other hand it was during COVID that I discovered nostalgia for old tech, and got my first iPod! And started my now years-long dream of having a flip phone, hopefully soon to be realized! I also started working on my current site on winter break of my COVID year of school, so in January of 2021, and I know that the way my school was set up, in larger classrooms for many classes, enabled me to not pay attention and work on my site instead, which is where a lot of the foundations of my site were built. (Especially freshman physics and my philosophy elective, which we had to have in the cafeteria, and world history, which we had to have in the library, all due to class size.) Really, I doubt I would've kept up my site this long if it wasn't for COVID, since now I don't really do much proper foundational work since I was able to do it all back then, and I can just make more stuff and change existing stuff whenever I like, rather than having to build anything from the ground up.
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"As she realized what might have been, she grew to be thankful for what was."
-Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South



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