03 October 2012

Convenient or Better?

After watching Digital Nation yesterday, I got to thinking about technology and how it "improves" our lives. I think we can all agree that technology (or at least most of it) makes our lives easier and more convenient. We often equate this convenience with better-ness. Thus, technology makes life better. I wonder if that's the case though. What exactly defines better?

Naturally, I turned to the OED. Better has many definitions and uses, some more archaic than others (surprisingly, the one that was marked obsolete is one that I occasionally use...) In essence better is:
  • comparative of good
  • of greater excellence; of superior quality
  • said of persons, in respect of physical, mental, or esp. moral qualities; also of social standing
  • said of things, in respect of their essential qualities
  • of persons and things: more profitable, useful, or suitable for a purpose; more eligible or desirable
  • of greater amount: more, larger, greater
  • and a couple other similar things.
Merriam-Webster adds
  • greater than half
  • improved in health or mental attitude
  • more attractive, favorable, or commendable
  • more advantageous or effective
  • improved in accuracy or performance
The OED gives many definitions of convenient, but only the 6th sense really concerns us here:
  • personally suitable or well-adapted to one's easy action or performance of functions, favorable to one's comfort, easy condition, or the saving of trouble; commodious.
 Again, Merriam-Webster adds
  • suited to personal comfort or easy performance
  • affording accommodation or advantage
  •  being near at hand: close
 Given these definitions I think there are definitely kinds of technology that is "better," things like medical technology or indoor plumbing water, but there are some kinds of technology that I'm just not sure about. What do you think? Does technology make life better or just more convenient? Is that same?
So, my question is does technology make life better? or just more convenient? 

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