Surprise! It Worked!

Surprise! It Worked!

If you’ve used technology for any length of time you’re probably already acquainted with the cool things that are possible, and the new frontiers it can open for us all.

You’re probably also familiar with the excitement you feel when something works.

My take is that a) the excitement is real, b) it’s somewhat misplaced, though c) it’s also somewhat of a sad reflection on the state of our technology.

It’s our expectations that have lead us down this path. We expect it’s likely that whatever it is we’re doing will fail somehow. Perhaps it’ll fail to simply do something that we’re attempting to do, perhaps it’ll fail catastrophically, but ultimately, we’re not surprised when things go wrong.

Just the opposite, in fact: we’re surprised when something works, works well, and works as expected.

In reality things generally do work, but like good news, we don’t notice things that “just work”, because they just work. It’s the failures that stand out. It’s the failures that shape our perception and cause us to expect the worst.

To be fair, I’m not saying that things are perfect. “Things generally do work” isn’t the same as “things always work”. There’s honestly no real shortage of failures — small and large — from which to form a perception.

And in a way that’s a sad reflection on the state of technology, and the state of technology’s quality. It could be better. It should be better. We really should be surprised when something fails, not when it works.

The industry has a ways to go.

That being said, there’s another type of more pleasant surprise that happens as well: something that works that’s less avoiding a failure, and more of an added bonus. For example, I’m typing this on my laptop in an airplane as I fly home from a volunteering trip. I’m using in-flight Wi-Fi to edit and save this as well as check in on email, and the like. Just for the heck of it I also tried connecting my phone’s Wi-Fi also. Rather than charging me for a second connection, it just worked as soon as I logged in to my provider’s account. Apparently it’s one device at a time, but that I might pay once and switch back and forth is pretty cool. And surprising, in a good way.

As you go about your day, interacting with the various technologies you use, pay attention to how much of it works and works without notice. You’ll find that more of it does than you might realize. While that might decrease the surprise factor when things work in the future, you’ll end up appreciating how much “just works”, on its own.


  1. It’s when things don’t work as intended when I tend to learn the most. Sometimes this can get frustrating but there is a feeling of satisfaction when you do get it to work. The more difficult the journey , the more satisfying is the finish line.
    By the way the Name and email box below isn’t working correctly as it displays everything in upper case. It isn’t important that I fix that so I will just inform you and ignore it.

Leave a Comment