11 Things That I Wish Would Disappear

What are you so over?

January 13, 2014

What do you wish would go away?   

Technologies, practices, and customs that have outstayed their welcomes. Things that just plain annoy you.  

I’ll start the discussion with my 11 candidates for expiration.

1. Internal Combustion Powered Cars:

By 2020 I’d like to be done with transportation that depends on internal combustion. Please give me a plug-in electric car. Please generate the electricity I will use to charge my car batteries from renewable resources (wind, solar, hydro), and local energy sources (I’m probably more fine with natural gas than you are).   

2. Course Grades:

Does anyone think that the practice of assigning letter grades to course performance is the best way to encourage learning? Do we really think that course grades provide the right incentives for students, or adequately capture the extent to which a student has learned the material?  How much would we be freed up as educators if we did not have to worry about designing assessments to evaluate, and rather utilized assessments as teaching tools?  What sorts of challenges would leaving behind grading provoke in us as we figured out how to design and implement a meaningful assessment and evaluation systems? How much would students be freed up to take intellectual risks, to explore subjects that they have been told that they are “not good at”?   Drop course grades, invest in course portfolios and rich instructor evaluations. 

3. Typed Passwords:

When will the typed password be a memory? Insecure, error prone, hard to remember, and vulnerable to hacking. Every screen that I own has a camera attached to it. Please start scanning my eyeballs.

4.  Keys:

This weekend I dropped my keys at Home Depot. Luckily, someone picked them up, and I was able to retrieve them. Lucky. Can we move to opening and starting things up with something other than a metal key? Scan my iris. Give me a keypad.  An RFID card.   Use my iPhone.  Free me from my ring of keys.

5.  SharePoint:

I’m going to get some static for this one, as some of the smartest people that I know (and work with) share by the goodness of Microsoft SharePoint. They say that it is powerful document management and collaboration tool. A platform to manage projects, track documents, and communicate across groups. The problem is probably me. Perhaps I’ve just bought too much into the simple consumer tools of Google Docs, Evernote, and Dropbox.  I’ve just never got SharePoint. It has always seemed overly complicated and overly feature laden form my tastes.   Tell me I’m wrong!

6. Big Time Major College Football:

This wish will definitely get me in trouble with some of you fans.  I just don’t get big time college football.  The kind where the teams make appear on national TV to giant audiences, where the coaches earn more than the anyone else on campus, and where the term “student-athlete” is at least questionable.  Maybe the issue I have is with how dangerous football has become.  The huge number of concussions and debilitating injuries.  Or the expense of running a big time college football program.  I actually really like watching football.  I just think that pro football should be left to the professionals.   And to be clear, leave big time college basketball alone, as my love for that sport outweighs any of the intellectual objections that I harbor towards football.  Consistent?  Probably not.

7. Slow EZ-Pass Toll Booths:

Why is it that some EZ-Pass toll booths let you drive through at full speed, where others you need to slow down to 15mph? Clearly this is not an issue of technology.  Every state highway authority should get their act together and raise the funding through bonds to upgrade their automatic tolling.  Money has never been cheaper.  Unemployment is high.  Now is the time to invest in infrastructure, hire more workers, and prepare for the future. Fast E-Z Pass toll stations seem like an obvious place to start.

8.  Flash and Silverlight:

Using Flash or Silverlight to serve online video seems to be a great recipe for headache creation. Does Flash or Silverlight work on iOS devices? Do they drain battery life when run on browsers? Why have we not moved beyond these technologies?  

9.  Inefficient and Ineffective Airport Security:

Is there any evidence that the TSA’s airport security procedures are effective? We know that they result in long delays and stressful travel. Is there anyway to move beyond removing our laptops, pulling out our toiletries, and taking off our shoes? Can a combination of conversations (the Israeli approach) and technologies (yes, I’m for scanning) make the security line both safer and more efficient (or at least one of these two?).

10.  Two-Year Cellular Contracts:

Why do we agree to sign our lives over to the cellular companies in two-year intervals? The great customer service? The innovations in technology? Crystal clear and reliable cell phone calls?  We need to move to pay-as-you go / pay-as-you-use models.  We need the manufacturers of cell phones to offer alternative methods to utilize their products.  We need more competition and more consumer protection.   

11.  Ridiculously Valued Web and Mobile Companies:

I hope that the crazy valuations of companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, Snapchat, Tumblr, and Pinterest finally reveal themselves.  Companies with giant valuations and no viable business model to support these valuations hurt legitimate companies. Talent and capital should be flowing into companies that meet a real need, and that have real customers that pay real money for their services.   

What in this list has a good chance of disappearing?  When? What will never go away?

What would you like to see go away?


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