You might not be surprised by these numbers. I was. This is a sign that we sometimes think behavioral changes due to new technologies are much more common than they actually are. Why? I will offer two possible explanations.

The first is that people (and journalists) tend to pay more attention to what’s new and new. This could be especially true if the behavior changes occur in relatively wealthy people. The vast majority of American workers have continued to do their jobs in person even in the depths of the pandemic, but about half of professional workers at some point have been doing their jobs away from an office because of the coronavirus.

And Peloton, the maker of $ 2,500 exercise bikes for streaming fitness classes, owns around 2.1 million. customers pay to use their exercise bikes or treadmills. For comparison, about 3.5 million homes in the United States had birds as pets in a recent year, according to a veterinary trade group. The peloton may be less popular than the parakeets, but it attracts a lot more attention.

That’s not to say Peloton doesn’t matter, remote working isn’t worth considering, or Netflix isn’t a big deal. Today’s novelties can become the commonplace of tomorrow.

This brings me to the second explanation, that relatively small but rapid changes in individual acts, repeated millions or billions of times, can disrupt everything around us.

I have already written about the number of our habits and the functioning of almost all businesses and cities has been deeply changed by Amazon and online shopping, which is still a fraction of what we buy. Ditto for Uber and Lyft. Companies account for a small number of kilometers driven in the United States, but their vehicles are a major contributor to traffic and their treatment of couriers has helped prompt a reconsideration of what it means to work in the United States and Europeans.

In an article on New York’s economic recovery after the pandemic, my colleagues dropped the mind-boggling statistic that if only one in 10 Manhattan office workers stopped coming most of the time, it would translate into “over 100,000 people a day not having coffee and bagels on the street. way to work or a drink afterwards.

You can imagine it could hurt sales at a bar in Times Square – and maybe help one in the suburbs if people traded after-office drinks with an after-zoom. A little more telecommuting could also profoundly change roads and transit systems which have been designed for the peak hours of office workers.

Digital butterfly Effect a zillion small changes can be unpredictable and uneven. People, businesses and policy makers will need to figure out how to deal with the big differences that can arise from small changes.


Tip of the week

Buying second-hand products is often sweeter on our wallets and the planet. Brian X Chen, the consumer tech columnist for the New York Times, recommends which electronics parts and accessories are a wise second-hand buy – and which might not be worth it.

Computer memory: Purchase. Also known as random access memory or RAM, these improve the speed of a computer will last indefinitely, as long as the previous owner did not scrape them with a screwdriver. It is a good idea to closely inspect all product photos.

Batteries: to be avoided. In general, I would advise against buying a used battery for any gadget. Batteries are intended for limited use, so it’s best to buy them new.

Screens: Avoid sometimes. The screens of electronic devices wear out and appear dimmer over time. They are also susceptible to disfigurements like “burn” and dead spots. You can sometimes find a good deal on a used TV with a not too old screen and good picture quality, but it is wise to consider these purchases only from someone you know and trust. .

Complementary Accessories: Buy most of the time. Peripherals like computer mice and keyboards are quite reliable. It is always ideal to test them in person to ensure that all buttons and keys are working properly. Pass all accessories powered by rechargeable batteries that are not replaceable. And headphones are a difficult passage. Are you sure you want to wear someone else’s used headphones?

Charging cables: Purchase. As long as the cable is not frayed and the connector looks good, you can buy a used charging cable. Try not to spend more than a few dollars each because new charging cables tend to be inexpensive.


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