On "Labour-saving" devices

06 November 2006

Last week, the hard-drive on my PC failed for the second time in as many months. As I went through the long-winded and increasingly-familiar process of installing a new drive and restoring the backup data, along with the little “tweaks” required to get everything working again, I started wondering about the nature of “labour-saving” devices.

The PC was supposed to save us time and effort, but it seems as if we spend all this saved resource in keeping it backed-up and safe from viruses. The PC started out as purely a labour-saving device, but it now delivers more critical services to us than ever before; we either have to pay someone to maintain it or spend our own time doing so. So where is the break-even point? The majority, I suspect, will remain faithful and spend the resource needed to minimise risk of failure to an acceptable level. A small minority will give up and obtain the services through other media such as interactive digital television. Still, there remains an opportunity for a provider to supply PC-like services that need no maintenance at all. Has Google done it again?

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