Technology promises change across all markets, but not all technological advances are as beneficial as they seem. In some markets, attempts at improvement end up producing inferior, complex products that cost more and don’t work as well as the product it was designed to improve.
For example, when WordPress became the dominant web publishing platform, it brought all kinds of positive change to the world of website development. WordPress put website design in the hands of average people with absolutely no technical knowledge. WordPress didn’t make developers obsolete, but developers were no longer necessary to get
a basic site up and running, which is what most people wanted.
However, with this innovation came tedious security protocols that when left unchecked resulted in hack after hack after hack. One-click installs leave WordPress installations without any salt and hash keys. SQL injections and brute force attacks have plagued WordPress since day one.
And no matter how well you keep up with plugin and core updates, there will always be newly discovered vulnerabilities.
Developers are continuously releasing patches and trying to stay ahead of hackers. It’s a lot of work. The irony is, many people who use WordPress don’t actually need it. By using WordPress, they believe their website has been simplified when it’s actually become more complex. To protect their site they have to perform daily backups, constant updates, and educate
themselves on how to keep their installation secure. There is no end to the
complexities created by ‘simplifying’ the website development process.
The simplicity of shaving is a classic example of how reverting back to tradition can be the optimal solution. In recent years, there’s been a revival
of traditional wet shaving and people are using classic tools like straight razors and safety razors. People are making their own lather and ditching cream in a can.
Consumers have been offered expensive so-called high-tech solutions promising a better shave (like $200 heated razors) but nothing beats the simplicity of a hot towel and a razor from a traditional shaving company. Classic shaving tools are affordable, simple, and give a better shave.
By attempting to innovate with already-inferior razors, commercial razor companies turned shaving into a complex chore. And all the technological advances in shaving tools are (expensive) offshoots of that complexity.
Another technological advance that has added complexity to the world is blockchain. Since blockchain has become the latest rage, everyone seems to love the idea of a decentralized database for everything. All you have
to do is say the word ‘decentralized’ and people smile, even if they don’t know exactly what that means. People know enough – that a decentralized database means there isn’t one person or company in control, and there isn’t just one instance of the data. That means it’s impossible to alter or delete the data permanently.
This sounds great and has many useful applications especially where monetary transactions are concerned. However, there are heavy disadvantages to blockchain technology in other markets.
The way blockchain is designed to prevent fraud and increase transparency can simultaneously be a disadvantage. On decentralized platforms, your information is permanently stored in the blockchain. Forever. That’s a long time.
Blockchain isn’t just for Bitcoin. If you’ve been tracking the innovations built on blockchain, you’re probably familiar with Steem’s blockchain blogging platform called Steemit. Blockchain aside, Steemit isn’t your typical blogging platform. The platform rewards users with Steem’s cryptocurrency for their contributions to the platform. However, there’s a
catch that most users don’t consider.
When you sign up for a Steemit account with your email address and phone number there is no way to change either one. Another disadvantage is the inability to change your username. If you want to change your username, email address, or phone number, you have to create an entirely new account. However, you can’t delete your old account and it won’t disappear. You can’t delete posts, either. As a matter of fact, if you want to edit a post you only have 7 days from the time it’s first published. After that, it’s permanently on the blockchain.
Imagine someone doxes you on a blockchain-powered social media platform. Nobody can delete that information. If that social media
platform runs on a traditional SQL database, you can contact the site owner and ask them to delete your personal information. If they don’t comply, you can go to the police and they’ll force the site owner to take down your information. If a site uses blockchain, not even the police or FBI can get the information taken down simply because it wouldn’t be possible.
It’s fun to take part in technological advances, but is it worth adopting a more complex life? There is a time and a place for advanced technology where the disadvantages are worth the complexity. However, sometimes reverting back to classic methods is truly the best solution.