The Phases of Technology
by Melissa Bean Sterzick
What’s really amazing about technology is not just its amazing capabilities, but the way it integrates into our lives. Two years ago, I still had a flip-phone. Despite my husband’s urgings, I put off updating my communications technology, because I knew that once I had a smartphone, I would be expected and compelled to be on-call nearly every moment of the day.
Then one day, I popped open my old phone in front of a close friend, and she stepped back in horror and said, “Did you set your phaser to stun?”
I was appropriately embarrassed, and had a smartphone within two months. It’s made a dramatic change on my life.
For one, I get emails and just look at them, as if they have nothing to do with me. If I’m not sitting at my computer, I seem to have no ability to return an email. Lots of people are annoyed with me.
Second, I’ve come to understand the allure of the text. It’s short and sweet, and when I need to communicate but don’t want to have a long conversation, texting is perfect. What makes it even better is that I can use my voice recognition tool to dictate my texts and avoid the annoying tip-tapping on those tiny letters.
I check the weather every morning. I watch my nearest and dearest on Instagram. I take pictures, track my calories, refresh my Spanish vocabulary, listen to music, and get directions to wherever I need to go. None of that is news to anybody who has a smartphone, and I’m not even a heavy user, yet.
It’s astounding. One day, I had an embarrassing relic of a phone, and the next day, I had a super-computer in the palm of my hand. I’m not sure I could ever go back. Still, most Sundays, I lock my smartphone in my car and take a break.
I have only one game on it that I allow my children to play in moments of supreme desperation, but not regularly, and I don’t answer it during dinner. I also don’t take it into my yoga sessions, because I do yoga to deal with stress, and my phone is completely counterproductive in that setting.
I also don’t want to be the woman whose phone rings during class, and she has to scurry over and turn it off, but by then it’s too late, and everyone’s really questioning her dedication to her practice, her manners and her judgment.
In the parking industry, technology is changing everything. In the world at large, the integration of parking technology is moving super-fast in some areas and super-slow in others.
For instance, there are no parking meters in the town where I grew up. There’s plenty of parking everywhere, and it’s all free. Even in the downtown area, you can expect to find parking any time and don’t need to pay a cent. A parking app would be more trouble than it’s worth.
Credit card-capable meters would be avoided. And no one gets tickets for parking on residential streets, unless they’re blocking a fire hydrant or upside down – and that’s only if someone in parking enforcement drives down the street while they’re doing it.
In Los Angeles, very near where I live now, parking technology is at the current peak of integration. Parking apps are widely in use. Tickets are decreasing as mobile payment becomes easier. When I make plans to go into LA, I can buy parking from my house before I leave or on my smartphone while en route (if somebody else is driving). In some places, the technology is so sophisticated, the garage itself tells me where there are open spots.
There are two pockets in my purse, as well as the very bottom of the bag, where change gathers. I look there first when it’s time to pay for metered parking. There are two cup holders and a third reservoir, for whatever miscellaneous junk I forget to throw away, in the console of my car. I look there second. When I don’t find enough money, I get out of the car and start digging around under the seat.
Recently, my city has begun phasing in credit card-capable meters. The first step was raising the cost of parking to 10 minutes for a quarter. Not a high price, but a price higher than before, and a huge inconvenience given the scarcity of coinage in the various receptacles of my life.
I’ll go on record as saying it’s my opinion that meter parking should never cost more than one quarter for one quarter of an hour, unless credit card-capable meters are available. Now that the credit card-capable meters are in place, I can park wherever I need to without the dreaded scramble for change. It’s a welcome development and a huge relief.
For people all over, advances in parking technology are helpful. The urbanites need their pay-by-phone apps. Suburbanites like me welcome credit card-capable meters. In smaller cities, parking technology is still in its infancy. People in small towns have heard about advances in parking technology, but they’re not using them, yet.
The act of parking is still the same – pull up, pull in and pay (if required); then reverse. It’s the technology that keeps changing – hopefully, in ways that make life better for us all. PTT