An early adopter is defined as someone who starts using a product or technology as soon as it becomes available. For as long as I can remember that’s been one of my defining characteristics. Some people are wary of new technology — “Oh, I’ll wait ‘til they get the kinks out.” Not me. I’m more like — “Ooo … shiny! How much?”
I’ll admit that along the way I’ve made some poor choices, especially involving computers. Does anyone remember NuBus slots? Jaz drives? USB to SCSI removable storage devices? The 20th Anniversary Mac? Cheap, flaky, analog to digital video encoders? I’ve had them all.
Likewise my non-computer choices haven’t always been prescient. Digital recorder with no replaceable batteries? Cumbersome electrostatic headphones? Analog cassette recorder with proprietary noise reduction system? Yes, yes, and yes.
The point is that I’ve always felt the benefits of embracing a new gadget, with all its faults and its sometimes steep learning curve, outweigh the potential disadvantages. As a tool-using species we only move forward, creating better and more useful implements. Why not learn how to use them sooner rather than later?
I’ve never understood the person who looks helplessly at his or her new laptop and admits “I’m a computer illiterate.” Well, let’s see … you’ve had the past thirty-five years or so to get on the bandwagon. Where were you? Hiding? Hoping it would go away? Waiting ‘til they removed every last kink?
That opinion may not have changed, but my gut reaction to shiny new things has, shall we say, lessened a great deal. I’ve gone from “Ooo” to “Meh.”
Part of it has to do with innovation versus marketing. Truly innovative technologies are few and far between. Consider digital audio (1976) and digital video (1986) recording. These inventions changed everything, from telecommunications all the way to society itself. It’s like the discovery of electricity. Who wouldn’t be excited?
On the other hand marketing is about repackaging existing tech to make it appear new. For example — iPhone? Innovation. iPad? Marketing. iPod? Well, some innovation but mostly marketing.
In fact there’s so much marketing going on in the hope of capturing your tech dollar that it’s hard to keep up with it all. What’s on Engadget today? Let’s see, a laptop with Intel’s “Ivy Bridge” processor. Marketing. WiFi-based earphones. Marketing. New HTC smartphone with dual-core processor. Marketing.
Another example: many radio journalists use Avid’s Pro Tools software to produce their work. The latest versions of this ubiquitous program have some significant advantages over their forebears … mainly, the ability to run without dedicated hardware. That’s great. But does the program itself work better? Edit faster? Not so much. And yet, Avid’s marketing would make you feel like a Luddite if you fail to upgrade.
So be it. I’m bored with all the marketing. Mind you, not bored enough to go back to the typewriter. Or to revert to analog tape recording. But please — wake me up when there’s some innovation going on.