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From the editor: A site for sore eyes


I am not a Luddite—not really.

You remember the Luddites, right? In the early years of the Industrial Revolution, groups of frustrated British textile workers began smashing machines meant to improve productivity.

They had cause, mind you—at least in their minds. In the 1800s, waves of new technology send more and more laborers to the streets, where they were consigned to lives of crime, rum or other things fodder for the likes of Hogarth and Dickens. Men were losing lifelong jobs and they perhaps rightly blamed labor saving devices.

Even the thoughts of Karl Marx found definition in the industrial age. Workers displaced and left in the dirt by technology would surely revolt, he decided.

But that’s a lengthy aside. And it’s best not to spend a few hundred paragraphs explaining years of brutal battles over working conditions, time off and the rest of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The point is I generally appreciate the new technology we use on a daily basis. I’m happy that we no longer must count characters per column inch to justify each and every line of newsprint. A word processing program handles that chore. In no way do I miss the hours spent in darkrooms producing half-tone images. Photoshop allows me to drag contrast and color balance curves in an instant.

More to the point, if XBox had been around in the 60s or 70s, I may have—no, would have—dropped out of grade school to perfect my Madden skills. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent on the NCAA football game giving mullets to every Alabama player and redesigning Nebraska’s uniforms in a lovely shade of pink.

Not a Huskers fan, as you know. Blame my first wife.

All that being said, I still believe most techies should be given lessons in the liberal arts, the humanities, sports, old films lacking in computer generated effects or anything involving more human thought.

They should have learned when the dot com bubble burst around the year 2000 or so, supposedly ending all of those fantastic illusions that eyeballs mattered more than profits in the “new economy.” Yep, young entrepreneurs believed such things back then. I remember reading, way back when, that technology finally allowed global trade, despite the pre-existence of, say, the British East India Trading Company and the three wise men.

You know, trading across borders in myrrh, frankincense and such.

But they haven’t. A few weeks ago I took a first stab at the website. But I bailed out after the process infringed on all important television and couch time. Besides, I took issue with the few security questions offered, just in case I forgot my username or password.

Favorite toy as a child? Was it Candyland, Nerf balls, Mousetrap or even Pong? How should I know?

Parent’s anniversary? They never celebrated one. Favorite pet? Oh, so now they’re demanding I choose between them?

On deadline day I finally decided to give the site another shot. Naturally I forgot both username and password. I could populate the username field with my email address, but the site refused to allow me to then click upon the “forgot my password” tab. Before hitting “forgot my password,” it demanded that I first enter a password.

Now that’s brilliant.

I’m not a Luddite, however. The techies responsible should not be subjected to extraordinary rendition (otherwise known as torture). Instead, they should be forced to spend time away from the computer lab and with some common folk, perhaps among the throngs at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln on a football Saturday shouting “go big pink.”

Yeah, yeah. Red—I know. The world I created in XBox isn’t real. But the frustrations and flaws in the Affordable Care Act site are part of this world that might have been avoided by a few trails with a human focus group.


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