Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No Off Switch

An annoying new trend in electronic devices has quietly crept upon us. While we were busy being dazzled by our gadgets’ myriad abilities, they lost one important ability: the ability to be shut off.

Recently I bought a new audio interface and external hard drive. Neither of them has an off switch. You have to physically unplug them from the computer for them to be off. I find this both surprising and unnecessary. Would it really have been that difficult to add an extra 10-cent part so I don’t have equipment running all the time when I’m not using it and I don’t have to crawl behind the computer to shut it off?

I’m not sure what the manufacturers are thinking when they do this. Perhaps they’re afraid of the idea of “out of sight, out of mind” and want to keep me aware of their existence by whirring or by flashing lights at me all the time? Are they too horrified by the notion that parts of my life may involve activities for which they are simply not necessary?

Or perhaps it’s merely a symptom of our 24/7 always-on wired society - a metaphor for what our 21st-century lives have become? I’m not entirely sure, but this year, regardless of which holidays you choose to celebrate, take some time and stop for a bit. Give yourself and your loved ones the gift of an off switch.

Happy Holidays from Omnimusic.

-Dave Hab

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