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Why are we all so scared of change?

Posted by Danny Whatmough on 2nd August 2010

This is a question I’ve been asking on a number of occasions over the last few weeks and, each time, technology has been at the heart of the issue.

The first was the redesign of the BBC news website [as an aside: check out this great post by one of our clients, looking at the changes in detail and what they mean for web design in general]. Twitter, and (shock horror) even the world in general, was aghast and what were, in the grand scheme of things, pretty much ‘lick of paint’ changes.

The second incident has been building up over the last few weeks as, more and more people discover that I’m reading a…dum dum dum…eBook!

I’m trying out the iBooks application on my new iPhone 4 and have been reading the new Dan Brown book (trashy, I know…) Everyone that I meet – including a random bloke on the train – seems amazed by this. Most also start getting all melancholic about it: “Argh! This means the end of lovely paperbacks, how will we cope!”

Did we go through this when tapes became CDs? Did the invention of electricity cause similar uproar? Were we all taken aback when the creation of the wheel meant getting from place to place became a breeze, but meant we all got a little bit more lazy?

I expect, for some, it did.

A psychologist would probably tell us that we like things to be ‘just so’ or ‘as they’ve always been’. We immediately get a bit concerned when things change. It’s natural. It makes sense.

But I also wonder how this very human condition has affected technological advancement. Does the slow adoption of eBooks – which will be commonplace sooner rather than later – because ‘”it’s just not the same as carting round a heavy paperback” slow the rate of advancement? [another aside: interesting to see that sales of eBooks on Amazon have overtaken sales of hardbacks]

I expect it probably does. But does it really matter?

No, of course it doesn’t. It’s how we are and we’ll never change. And yet, I try – in my role working in the technology industry – to take as open-minded a view as I can. I’m enjoying the new BBC website and, once you get used the smaller screen, love the benefits of having a book with me wherever I go.

The future’s bright; we just have to have the confidence to get there!

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