I was reading a book recently when I came across a very strange picture (similar to the one on the left). Although my image is photoshoped together this was a genuine product sold in Japan in the 1980′s. As pocket calculators become cheaper and cheaper people began to use them more and more moving away from older form’s like the Abacus. The Abacus-Calculator combo was for those skeptical people who either didn’t believe the calculator or weren’t sure the calculator would catch on.
While the picture is hard to believe in one way it is interesting to note that as long as you know what you are doing the Abacus is a much faster method of addition than a calculator. This is a case where technology might be the preferred choice but it is certainly not more efficient or necessarily more reliable. The video below is a game played in Japan called Flash Anzan, these people are skilled students who can use imaginary Abacuses to do these sums. Each student is show a series (15) of 3 digit numbers, each number appears on the screen for .2 seconds. Try putting a 3 digit number into a calculator in under .2 seconds.
Technology for Technology Sake
I think this is something the Performance Analysis industry needs to be careful of as well. While there is absolutely no doubt that technology (both the cost and efficiency) has made life so much easier for us all, it’s important that we constantly examine if technology is making the job more efficient. The one element of Performance Analysis I have in mind is notational analysis. I am constantly being asked questions like ‘how is it possible to code/tag live, show video at half-time or even stream clips to IPhone’s and IPad’s around the ground’.
While this may be a beneficial way of doing things in some sports you need to constantly examine if this is the best way of getting information to players/coaches in your sport. What are coaches really interested in seeing, what can really make a difference at half-time, how much information can players take on board, these are all more important questions we need to be asking.
Just because some technological advances are possible does not make them better. Perhaps in some sports and for some teams simply noting a few KPI’s and having a flip-chart in the dressing room might be enough. Let’s have technology for improvement not just for the sake of technology.