For a blogger – by definition on the cutting edge of technology – I am quite a Luddite. Perhaps that is too strong a term and I should rather call myself a “patient techno-skeptic”.
I watch the development of new technologies with interest, but I almost never get any kind of visceral excitement “I Have To Have This! Now!”
There is always a lot of experimenting going on and the Darwinian forces of the market ruthlessly destroy almost every new gizmo and gadget within a year or two. After a while, the dust settles, and one particular system or gadget becomes the universal standard – it gets perfected, it gets made easy to use by technidiots like me, it becomes cheap and it becomes a neccessity. And then it lasts for a decade or more. VHS won and remained for decades, until DVD replaced it. There were vinyls for decades, then audio tapes ruled for decades, then CDs for a decade and now MP3s.
So, my strategy is to wait for the dust to settle, see what is the new standard, evaluate soberly if I really need it, then buy the best one on the market.
I never got excited about hybrid cars, always feeling that they were a transitional technology. But I got excited about the Tesla Roadster. Will I buy it as soon as available? Of course not (even if I could afford it). I’ll wait until it becomes a standard, everyone makes something like it, the product gets perfected, ubiqutous (with a global supporting structure) and cheap. Then I’ll buy the best one on the market at the time, unless the dream of a carless society comes about first!
It took a long time for me to relinquish my old trusted Fujica SLR camera for a digital Olympus. I waited until it became obvious which technology was dead, and which was here to stay, skipping over all the intermediates and false-starts in the meantime.
So, I never bought a Palm Pilot, or a Blackberry, or an iPod, or a cell phone, or a lap-top, or a hybrid car. There was always a sense of ‘unfinished business’ about all of those devices. I never had the feeling that any of those gadgets were going to be durable winners of the technological race. There was something clumsy about each one of them and just so much to carry around and worry about and potentially lose. I found serious-looking guys with toolbelts packed with gizmos ridiculously funny!
I have been waiting for someone to design one small, easy-to-use gadget that will do all those things, do them well, be easy to use, be cheap and be universal. I just have a feeling that the iPhone is the first prototype of that kind of technology. Will I buy it in June? No. It looks supercool, but it is too expensive, too new and not universal enough yet. I’ll wait for the glitches to be fixed, for upgrades to be made, for competition to gear up and try to do better, for the price to go down, and for demands for more openness and choice (e.g., of the phone provider) to become available. Then, I will buy the best such gizmo on the market.
And even then, the phone will be switched off except at times I want to use it – which will be very rare. I need to be incommunicado except at times when I want to be reachable. Send me an e-mail and I’ll respond on my time, on my terms. I am not here to serve you at the moment’s notice whenever you want to talk. We can negotiate a time for such things that is OK to both of us.