Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Not an Early Adopter.

Listening to the radio this morning I heard about some new device that can be attached to your television to get downloaded content directly from the net. Apparently you can use your regular ol' TV remote to access it. Or at least some can... those that can figure out which remote controls the TV. I'll be taking a pass on this new invention... as I have with the satellite dish, IPOD, Blackberry, Bluetooth, TIVO, DSL, ON Demand, laptop, MP3 player, memory stick, Playstation, Hi-Def, Plasma, and flatscreen TVs. In fact, it is miraculous that I can even come up with those names to form a list. I only got a cell phone two years ago. And I still connect to the net with a dial-up connection.

I'm not what you would call an "early adopter". According to theorist Everett Rogers, only 13.5% of society truly is. So I guess I shouldn't feel too bad. At least I'm not a "Luddite". I own a digital camera, and upload images to my desktop. I own a lot of DVD's, and I watch them on a modestly-sized television. We have a land-line phone, a microwave and an automobile. I certainly don't reject all technology. But I do tend to be suspicious of all of the new crap. Philosophically I like to think of myself as a bit of a transcendentalist. I don't need to jump onboard every new techno-fad. It's really about the content for me... and not so much the form. Passing up the hot new-fangled devices doesn't preclude me from considering any idea whatsoever. Maybe I'm jaded... but I don't feel that I need a better quality image, or more portable media than I already have available to me.

It seems to me that when it comes to a lot of the latest generation of gadgets- it's a matter of "the law of diminishing returns". Simply put... we pay an increasing amount for an ever-decreasing benefit or improvement. I didn't like the fact that VHS tapes got warped and tended to roll on-screen, but when the big closeouts started at the rental outlets... I took home armfuls of movies I hadn't seen before. That's one obvious advantage of being behind the technology curve... great waves of cheaply-priced content. I've seen quite a lot of movies that I wouldn't have had a chance to see otherwise. The benefit of the introduction of the DVD format was that many films that had been long out of print were reissued. Of course image resolution was better than VHS. But what's next? How much better does the picture need to be, and will we be able to see much of a difference? And why do we need to be able to receive these pictures and sounds from wherever we are? Do we really need to watch television episodes or listen to music on our cellphones?

Why do we need to be accompanied by our media 24-7? Wasn't it already crossing the line to be instantly reachable from any spot on earth? Isn't there something to be said for "getting away from it all"? Sure, you can set your cellphone to "manner mode". But you still feel compelled to see who's calling. You're still texting people. You may not feel that it's an intrusion, but I do. It's an intrusion if you are constantly distracted from our conversation. It's a distraction from your immediate and present circumstances. (If you don't believe me... watch someone driving while they are on their cellphone.) And it's ultimately a quality of life issue.

It makes me fear the path that society has chosen. I love the idea that technology has made the transmission of information quicker and more convenient. It can be a tool of tremendous benefit. But I think that the capability of the technology to allow people to escape their surroundings is dangerous. Inevitably you are still part of the world... but a world you are no longer paying attention to.


Blogger Lee said...

On the news this morn, I saw a piece about a toilet manufacturer who is tryin to cash in on the media explosion. They attached an Ipod, a game system and a large flat screen TV so we wouldn't get bored while havin a poo. Even my game-zombie 11 year called this, "Too much!"


11:10 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

I don't even believe in reading on the toilet. Get in and get out.

1:44 AM  
Blogger Rob Park said...

The only constant is change.

The guttenburg press mass produced books (mostly the bible at the time)that distract us from "reality."

I see new tech as value neutral and an extension of reality. Belief systems or value systems are outside of reality and can be either workable or untenable.

Much of modern society desires and values are untenable for the majority. Imagaine five billion cars let alone plama screens and cell phones. I don't think everyone on the planet has a freaking pencil.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Rob wrote...

"I see new tech as value neutral and an extension of reality. Belief systems or value systems are outside of reality and can be either workable or untenable."

So, ok... I guess I'm somewhere between you and Ted Kazcynski on this question.

I definitely agree that most of the stuff can't be shared with everybody. For the most part, it is a zero-sum game that the environment is losing.

7:58 PM  

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