Interesting post. My take on it is that most/many of us seem to be subject to a self-generated compulsion in the use of and the immediacy of use of some technologies.
The question in the subject is:
Is having everything available in "real time" where we really want to go?
It seems to beg the question of whether we actually know where we want to go in the first place.
For any newly
-introduced technology, the answer to the latter is arguably usually "No". Indeed, how could it be otherwise? How could we know what the user requirements might be? We often have absolutely no idea at all.
So, what often gets delivered to the user is a product/service technology/design that exhibits certain features that the designers dream up/think/guess/anticipate that the users might find helpful/useful/enjoyable/titillating. The only way to find out for sure is a trial marketing exercise. Let the thing out in ß, for example. Feedback from the users will be useful as a guide for necessary design/development changes, and will also help to identify any bugs in the thing too, because you probably didn't/couldn't really test it rigorously enough anyway.
This is the classic product development approach, and various IT suppliers, including, for example, IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook have taken that approach with their products/services at one time or another. The result is usually either a product/service that continues, or one that is summarily despatched at an early stage in its life-cycle.
At the end of the day, the product/service needs to be able to turn a profit. The Amazon example is one where the life-cycle was allowed to continue for a greatly extended period, even though it apparently made a loss meanwhile. Now it makes a profit and has a commanding market presence.
This can happen because entrepreneurs usually have the freedom to exercise invention, innovation and risk-taking in a Capitalist economy. This leads to many startups and failures, with a few prominent successes - rather like the Manhattan skyline. It arguably couldn't happen in a Socialist-Communist planned command-economy, because it would go against the dominant socio-political ideology and laws.
Psychologists tell us that research shows humans to be not naturally long-term thinkers but short-term thinkers, and suppose this to be an evolutionary survival characteristic. There is a characteristic in human nature that manifests itself as a desire/need for short-term rewards - IG (Instant Gratification).
IG has long been researched by psychologists and since the '30s has usually been incorporated unsubtly into a company's product/service marketing strategies.
Some of the new technologies that are introduced and that meet the need for IG for some users in some manner are seized on by those users, and they hammer the thing to bits, seeking max and repetitive IG. They do that because the psychological reward for the behaviour that leads a user to obtaining IG is so great that it leads to the behaviour necessarily being repeated as often as needed and as quickly as possible, so as to repeat the reward experience.
For example, texting via cellphones: how many times have you witnessed people so completely absorbed in a cellphone text "conversation" that they seem oblivious to what is around them? They are engrossed in a rewarding process.
The same can be largely true for things such as, for example, drug addiction and substance abuse (e.g., cigarette-smoking), and illicit marital affairs.
Why? Well, you cannot stop doing these things unless you force yourself to practice behaviours that avoid doing them. If you keep doing them, then you keep receiving the reward for IG (usually stimulation of the pleasure centers) that you crave/need so badly and that past experience has taught you that you can obtain again by a repetition.
The oblivious cellphone texter is in the same/similar condition. If they were not gaining some form of IG/pleasure feedback from the exercise, then they would discontinue the behaviour
(assuming there was no external compulsion to continue).
Another aspect that could come into play is fear.Fear of perceived potential loss
is a very strong driver.
For example, the cellphone texter may feel apprehension/fear at the thought of missing or not replying to what might be an "important" message. So keep glued to that little screen or be sorry.
We seem to be generally susceptible to a lot of technology that can put us in this sort of condition - IG pleasure, or pleasure-fear - including, for example, compulsively watching TV, or playing computer games, or reading an engrossing book, or reading newspapers, or reading the Sunday supplement newspapers, or reading RSS feeds, or reading an encyclopaedia, or engaging in online chats or Facebook wall-posting conversations, or email inbox obsession, or watching Flickr photo-feeds, and so on.
These seemingly compulsive activities can often seem to us to be very
important and high-priority activities - at the time - and we may even tend to rationalise them like mad when challenged.
Interestingly, as well as in psychology, there seems to be at least some basis in general IT theory to illustrate this characteristic human aspect towards the use of technology. You can find it in the 2nd stage (Contagion)
of Nolan's rather dated model of Stages of Growth of IT.Is having everything available in "real time" where we really want to go?