Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Nerdy Academic's Tech Wish List

All that discussion of 'unbundling' and new technology in yesterday's post got me thinking about some gadgetry I'd like to see. Since I know some of my readers are also pretty tech-savvy, I invite their suggestions too.

- An e-reader that isn't too heavy or expensive, and that makes citing pages easy. We academic types like to be able to annotate and cite page numbers when we quote.

- An internet plan that covers home, mobile, and a smartphone for one price. Failing that, could we at least get the smartphone to serve as a wifi router, and not get charged extra for it? Honestly. And I don't want to have to use WebOS to do it, since it's an afterthought in the app-development world. Also, a battery that doesn't die or catch on fire after two hours would be lovely.

- Something close to a la carte pricing for cable. Let me pay a dollar per channel per month and choose my own channels. Failing that, let's get the video streaming services to a level where I can drop cable altogether without losing the kids' programs or The Big Bang Theory. We nerds love Sheldon, and he's not on Hulu.

- A "gong" app to use for meetings that have just gone on too long. Carrying my own analog gong is unwieldy.

- An open-source ERP program that actually works.

- A day on which the academic world agrees, en masse, to switch from Word to OpenOffice and/or Google Docs. Kill Word Dead. I, for one, will dance on clippy's grave. ("It looks like you're doing a celebratory jig. Would you like some help?")

- Room scheduling software that is cheap, customizable, and easily updated. You would not believe what room scheduling software goes for these days.

- A podcast platform structured similarly to Google Docs. As it is, if I'm halfway through a podcast at the end of the day but I need to update the other podcasts for the next day, I have to return to the same computer or the ipod will lose the memory of where I was. But if the podcast manager were on the cloud somewhere, it wouldn't matter which computer I used.

- Choice in home broadband providers. Either break the monopoly or regulate the hell out of it. Unregulated monopolies -- my local one rhymes with "bomb blast" -- are not pretty. (What's their customer service like, you ask? Bend over and I'll show you!) For that matter, meaningful choice in mobile broadband would be lovely, too. That cartel-like 60 dollars a month uniform charge needs to go.

- How about cheaper monthly rates for unsubsidized (or paid off) phones? If the rates are what they are in part to pay for the equipment, but the equipment is already paid for, shouldn't the rates be lower?

- A program that allows administrators to do inquiry-driven Institutional Research data slicing ourselves.

- A search engine that would work on my actual desk.

- Some sort of voice identification software for the phone.

- Some sort of name-recollection software plugged directly into my brain. Maybe a really inconspicuous version of "google goggles" that could be nano-engineered directly into contact lenses.

Wise and worldly readers, what would you have the techies generate next?