Saturday, May 21, 2005

Luddite in Self Defense

A friend mentioned recently that she was getting a number of new electronic gadgets this weekend. My brother's kids are Game Boy addicts and have recently become enamored of their iPods. I'm a technically savvy individual -- I've made my living as the Chief Technology Officer of start-up and mid-sized companies -- so why did it take me quite a while to buy a digital camera? Why do I still not have an iPod. Why am I no longer the full-speed-ahead damn-the-torpedos early adopter I was when I was younger?

The answer is simple.

Time.

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I find that I only add a new electronic gizmo to my collection these days when I'm convinced that the net amount of time I'll gain from having the thing will balance out to a net savings. For example, the hassle of having an iPod means I'd have to invest more time in managing and growing my music collection. Right now the only times I tend to listen to music are when riding in the car, and CDs are just fine for that. If I get back on the road and have to do a lot of flying in the future I can see the virtue of getting an iPod to use for listening to audio books, but for now, the downside of the extra time I'd spend fiddling with my iPod (and let's face it, if I got one, we're also probably talking about "my daughter's iPod" as well) just doesn't balance out to a net savings and an improvement in my quality of life. If an initial investment in an iPod and setting up my music library would truly result in greater convenience and time savings -- something I'm not convinced of at this point -- I'd buy one.

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This rule applies to software as well as hardware. For example, I recently had to upgrade my anti-virus software. It did not go well. I'm not what you'd call a helpless or naive user, but after at least an eight hour day of fiddling with it, uninstalling, reinstalling, reading technical support advisory documents, and so on, I just got the system to the point where it works acceptably and now have to remember to manually check for updates a few times a week.

The moral of the story is that our tools can easily become our tyrants.

Sic semper tyrannus.

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I'll write later on how to figure out the right time to hop on board a new technology -- pragmatic wisdom painfully gained by years of being a technoogy executive. The sub-title is S-shaped Adoption Curves Are Your Friends.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, you could have saved eight hours of diddling with your anti-virus software if you were using a machine that doesn't have viruses! You should buy a Mac!
- Not the Reverend Mommy.

11:00 PM  
Blogger Cogit8tor said...

I've got two iMacs and appreciate their greater ease of use. I'm a big fan of Macs and hope to pick up one of the "white dome" model iMacs on eBay some time to add a third one. Alas, I still need to use PCs for business purposes and therefore have to endure the pain of making things work on that platform as well. The other hassle is that as a dual platform tech support person -- if only for my personal machines -- I have to stay up to date on both Mac and PC nuances. I'll probably make the switch to really using OSX some time this year.

7:29 AM  
Blogger the reverend mommy said...

OS X rocks. We have upgraded Tiger. Tyger Tyger burning bright, In my iMac late at night....

6:26 PM  
Anonymous Quality of Life Improvement said...

Hello -> Cogit8tor <- I just wanted to let you know that Luddite in Self Defense was an interesting read and well presented. Just my two cents.

Regards,
Emotional and Mental Self Improvement

3:46 AM  
Anonymous Motivational Self Improvement said...

Hello -> Cogit8tor <- I just wanted to let you know that Luddite in Self Defense was an interesting read and well presented. Just my two cents.

Regards,
Recursive Self Improvement

8:55 PM  

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