Despite all the recent buzz over Twitter’s IPO, the College’s own quiet technological revolution has gone largely unnoticed. After years of pink slips and green sheets, it seems that the College has finally begun to embrace the 21st century.
In the past months, the information technology department has unveiled a slew of technological improvements. They include AC Web Laundry, which provides real-time updates on campus washers and dryers, e-mail and text message notifications of student packages, wireless printing, an improved mobile site and soon, a new system that will allow students to add funds to AC Dollar accounts online using a credit card.
Technology does not always equate to progress, and it is worth noting that when we refer to IT’s new features as technological improvements, we mean it. Unlike Twitter’s, the College’s IT innovations have been directed by a coherent objective, i.e., facilitating and improving student life. This is commendable. It is important that the College does not pursue technology simply for technology’s sake, because technology has just as much potential to clutter and distract as it does to streamline and elucidate. Thanks to IT’s new advances, we can make much more efficient use of our time and resources. Wireless printing has helped us eliminate wasted green sheets and lost pages; package notifications help us avoid tedious visits to the mailroom; Web Laundry allows us to schedule our chores better and to prevent frustrating, unfruitful trips to the laundry room.
Unfortunately, technology is not very helpful unless people use it. Despite the convenience provided by AC Web Laundry, it is not uncommon to find cleaned clothes left in a washer or dryer. Given a shortage of dryers and washers in many dorms and the ease of configuring e-mail and text notifications for finished laundry, this is inexcusable. It does, however, say something about us as students. Whether due to overwhelming academic and extracurricular commitments or general lethargy, students seem to find it difficult to take advantage of the technological updates in order to complete the task of doing laundry more efficiently. IT should take note. Regardless of how user-friendly a system may seem, there is always some friction and inertia when initially adapting to a new system, and IT should not neglect advertising and incentivizing students to adopt new technologies.
Ultimately, if you do not use it, you lose it. If students value a new technology, they should use it and use it often. This helps generate a positive feedback loop, positively reinforcing the IT department to continue developing new technological improvements and helping its staff hone in on those that are truly useful. We cannot expect helpful and innovative developments to arise without providing our feedback, both positive and negative. The only way for the IT department to gage the reception of their contributions is by how popular they are and how widely they spread. When we appreciate a technological advance, we need to express our enthusiasm and also give credit where it is due. Therefore, we would like to express our thanks and gratitude to IT for making our lives that much easier.