Technology tipping points
By Dante on April 27th, 2011
I like to think of myself as pretty progressive when it comes to technology. But if I look at recent facts honestly, I have to admit: I’m delusional. From cell phones to digital photography and video to e-readers, Blu-Ray players, HD televisions, and iPods, I saw enemies of culture and the natural order rather than advancements in how we engage with things like books, movies, and, indeed, other people.
Of course I ultimately embraced all of the technology I railed against (because I’m a hypocrite) to the point that I now own a Droid, listen to music on an iPod Touch, and lust after the latest DSLRs. Recently, I became the owner of a Blu-Ray player and a Kindle, two things I swore I’d never own. Thinking about how that happened led to asking myself: What was my technology tipping point?
I complained for years about Blu-Ray and how it ruins the cinematic experience by eliminating the tactile quality of film. But I really wanted the incredible new restoration of Taxi Driver that’s only available on the high-def format. So a Blu-Ray player was ordered. And as far as the Kindle goes, I dismissed it out-of-hand since its inception as superfluous — I read books, why do I need a “reading device” like the Kindle? But then my fiancé and I looked at our bookshelf (which you can see is a disaster zone), then looked at our small Brooklyn apartment, and thought, you know, storing hundreds of ebooks in a couple 7.5″ x 4.8″ x .335″ devices would make things a lot easier on our living quarters.
Those are practical tipping points, ones that make some kind of empirical sense. But there’s an almost philosophical thing happening here, too, that made me say, “OK, time to stop fighting the future.” Truly embracing these things wasn’t as simple as just running down to the local Best Buy and whipping out my credit card. I had to be comfortable with the new modes of consuming and interacting with the culture that means a lot to me. I had to ask: What role will this have in my life, if only on the level of how I read a book or watch a movie? In the case of Blu-Ray, I can see how owning the player will allow me to indulge my cinephelia in ways previous formats never could, and it’s pretty clear the Kindle will get me to read more (I’ve already gone on an ebook binge).
Engaging with technology on these almost existential terms, rather than viewing new devices as easily disposable toys, helped me make sense of the latest, greatest what’s-it and whether it has value for me. It wasn’t one single tipping point, in other words, but lots of little pushes that rocked and swayed me over to adopting these new technologies.
But I realize that this approach isn’t how everyone approaches adopting a new technology. So what about you, OOM readers? What’s your technology tipping point? Have you embraced a new technology that you thought would never, ever, not in a million years, be in your home? Let us know in the comments!
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