I just witnessed the dumbest use of technology

I’ve truly witnessed the dumbest gratuitous use of technology. I challenge you to think of a worse, less efficient, greater waste of time and resources than this one.

I’m at the airport traveling to work with some chemistry teachers in Miami. I’m used to the TSA routine and don’t really spend a lot of time ranting about how stupid most of it is.

But this time there was a new surprise waiting for me. Before I got to the people that would look at my ID and ticket I was met with a person standing next to a tablet on a pedestal. Each person was instructed to touch it and the result was an arrow that pointed to the right or to the left.

It told you which line to get in.

And the best part is that it was entitled “TSA Randomizer.”

So someone had spent the time, money and resources to develop this “Randomizer” app, purchase the tablets, stands and cases, and employ a person who’s entire responsibility was to tell people to touch the screen and follow the arrow.

And to make this even better, after I and two other people went through (and all ended up in the right line…random sometimes results in several in a row the same, I know), as I turned around to laugh with the random stranger behind me that was also laughing at this new experience, we heard the guy at the “Randomizer” inform the people waiting to use it that the app had crashed.

Really? An app that’s sole purpose is to randomly choose right or left on each touch crashed? I could code that and deploy it in 5 minutes and there’s nothing about it that would lead to crashes. In fact, my 10 year that is a newbie at coding could handle it.

So then pedestal-guy had to call over a supervisor to get it restarted. So now there’s two people being paid to man the “Randomizer.”

In the meantime, the line to our left was empty (and the TSA agent checking IDs for that line was literally standing there doing nothing). I was next in my line but couldn’t go over to him because I had been shown the “right arrow” by the “Randomizer”

Finally the TSA agent asked the guy next to him if he could help me and this second TSA agent have him an exasperated look and said “yes, I guess, but only if you keep careful track of which line they came from and make sure to send them back on that side to go through xray.”


How did any of these craziness insure the safety of the flight? Really?

They’d be better off to pay that guy to stand there and flip a coin. Or even wackier – let people choose their own line and go with it.

So what is this story doing on an educational blog? To ask all of you fabulous educators out there to “please don’t use technology like the TSA”…make sure it’s truly value-added!

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