Take Quora, for instance. After it popped up on my horizon of particular interest, I joined the network to investigate further. My investigating puttered out quickly because a fine-tuned architectural taxonomy is nearly nonexistent and user-friendliness was apparently not a design consideration, in my own humble opinion. (Note: it was redesigned since I joined and reports say it encompasses more user attributes from popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, probably because the founder came from Facebook, or because nearly every living organism is on Facebook whether or not they admit it. That's a fact.)
Really though, it's because I just don't get the stupid questions people ask.
- Why don't bananas taste as good when they are put in hot oatmeal?
- Why don't they get rid of the taste of alcohol in liquor?
- Why do babies cry?
- Why is the sky blue and not green?
And then it hit me. I'm getting the "stupid girl" content because I haven't participated enough in the Quora network to deserve "SMART" content. Ahhhh, I get it. I'm impressed by that. And not just because Quora runs on a Ubuntu operating system either (you know, the one that is free so that everyone in the world can be peppered with stupid questions until they, too, become irritated and lose interest.) I'm impressed by that because I'm competitive in nature and want to challenge myself and Quora, to see if I am what I think I am. Am I really interested in the evolution of nano-technologies or do I really just care about the oh-so-perfect balance of cheese to noodle ratio in lasagna? And really, why DO babies cry? But I digress...
The problem lies with our ADHD-diagnosed society and our addiction to use technology for managing our growing symptoms of less time + less attention + more work = less happiness vs less work + more attention + better work = more happiness. Additionally, with competitors like ChaCha, Answers.com and Yahoo Answers added to our everyday social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, Quora has a difficult story to sell. They invite people to submit questions and answers that are ranked according to clever algorithms and special ranking systems and that is very impressive, indeed. But the truth is, 95% of what people pose in these forums appear to be something that could be adequately answered by throwing up a new Facebook status or tweeting out an S.O.S. I'm making up these statistics, but I would bet that less than 5% of the content is actually professional expert driven Q&A. Which brings me to one very serious conclusion:
As much as we Google it, put it up in Facebook and Tweet it out, we still don't trust technology to add real value to our everyday lives in real and measureable ways.
We want our most serious concerns addressed by humans; doctors, scientists, politicians, police, teachers, bosses, architects, hostesses, neighbors, nurses and legal counsel. We want data and numbers and proof and word-of-mouth and we want it all now.
You can Google it now, but you will need to wait your turn to see the doctor. Sometimes that's helpful. Other times that's the worse thing you can do.
All in all, technology is nice. But people are critical.
And trust is such a necessary ingredient that I bet that's the reason those bananas taste different in the hot oatmeal. Someone didn't trust that they could, and then BAM, they didn't.