New Technologies Adaptation


The basic structure of technology adaptation concerns cycles of misalignment. Three specific variables occur in this misalignment: the technology itself, the delivery system for its benefits and the expectations of those who use it. These three variables are constantly in the process of mutual adjustment. The ultimate goal is to put all three variables into line.


Technology creates new routines, and these new routines always have problems. Word processors are useless without good printers and reliable hardware. Word processors changed the way writing was done and the speed and accuracy of documents changed radically. New features were needed, such as graphics capability or increased storage. These features developed in response to what was lacking in the early word processing programs. Faster, more accurate software developed to solve some of the misalignments that developed in this field. Better printers (part of the delivery system) needed to be developed, and more fonts and features were added as the demand for them grew. The very use of the technology demanded new developments.


Adaptation theory recognizes the changes that technology brings about in daily work. Each development in technology changed perceptions about what was possible. As work routines changed, technology needed to fill more gaps. Word processing technology altered the nature of email as attachments became more common and reliable. The real concept is that the comfort of those who were changing with technology now needed to become a priority. As computers took over office work, new, clearer monitors and more reliable hardware was demanded. Better, quieter keyboards and disks with more memory were absolutely necessary. But these would not have been necessary had computers not radically altered the nature of the workplace.


The main issue becomes change. If people’s lives change in one significant way, it affects all aspects of life. If a worker is now working on a word processor instead of at typewriter, the change brings new concerns. Memory, hardware issues and even carpal tunnel syndrome now need to be addressed by the same people who developed the word processor technology. Change cannot remain partial. One aspect of change affects all others, and technology seeks to help with this holistic change.


Life, at least at work, is largely mediated by those who produce technological innovations. The worker becomes a subject, where each change in the work routine is followed by new inventions that take care of the other affected areas. Because applications for new technology are limitless, the adaptation process is limitless.