Saturday, September 29, 2007

Keeping Up with the Joneses

When researching libraries, computers, the Internet, and Information Science, we find that they have always been connected, if even at first just in the minds of visionaries. "A network of such, connected to one another by wide-band communication lines," said J.C.R. Licklider in 1960, "[would function as] present-day libraries together with anticipated advances in information storage and retrieval and symbiotic functions."

What you see above is a photo of all my iPods and related gadgetry. To be quite blunt, I love this crap! In fact, it's not crap. From the purchase of my first iPod a few years ago (a first generation iPod Shuffle of the "white pack of gum" variety) to my latest acquisition, an iPhone, I've been criticized for giving in, breaking down, and showing off. Just last night I was talking to my mom on the phone and she decided to tell me, as she does every now and then, that it's too bad I've wasted so much money on these Apple products (I'm typing this on my MacBook, btw) because they're going out of business! Wow, hadn't heard about that (because it's of course untrue). Come to find out, she had just been reading about Apple's discontinuation of the 4GB model of the iPhone and their decision to drop the price of the 8GB version, leaving some consumers enraged, so to her this someone translated that the company was in terrible trouble and going out of business.

My whole life I have been an information junkie as well as "tech geek." I taught myself BASIC programming on an Atari 5200 when I was ten years old. I used this same computer maintain a list (on a big ol' floppy disk) of all my friends and neighbors, for whom I printed-up library cards, giving them access to my private collection of paperback horror novels and Fangoria magazines, all organized and labeled in accordance with Dewey Decimal Classification.

So, establishing myself as one who has inherently kept up-to-date for as long as I can remember, and as one who has always enjoyed the sharing of information, I have a motto I must repeat every time I buy a new computer, the latest iPod, or even a book, CD, or some other electronic techno-gadget: Don't look back! By this I mean, the minute you invest any time and/or money into something new these days, something bigger and better (usually smaller and cheaper with a few new features) will be released. Even in the world of books and music and home entertainment there will always be a first edition, then a new edition with updated introduction, or just paperback versus hardback, the latest CD or DVD as it evolves from its original release, to the one with extra tracks and bonus features, or the deluxe-digital-download version for $5 less than what you just bought at the store.

Then there is my mother who is there to remind me that all these creature comforts are just toys on which we are growing more seemingly dependent, just setting ourselves up for the ultimate let-down. With all this technology you also have the potential for total darkness in the face an ultimate "big shutdown." Yes, the world's energey sources could all be wiped out in some magnetic polar shift of the Earth or some other insane disaster, and as a result all our gadgets could be put to rest. We could lay around and cry about how much we miss the Internet and how much money we wasted, while people like my mother can sit with a candle and a magazine and say, "Told ya so."

Despite the opinions of many (even some coworkers and friends directing these opinions at me) I don't buy electronic stuff because I've fallen pray to some "new and improved" marketing ploy or to show off that I have the latest and greatest wind-up toy. Besides being a techno-information geek, I've also always been a lover of music my entire life. It took me years to build up enough trust in the technology to finally buy an iPod or a laptop computer. I buy this stuff because I love it. It supplies me with music, information, communication, and entertainment. I have no kids, I am not married, therefor I can afford these toys.

However, I don't consider these things true necessities and, not unlike my mother, I carry with me the perpetual sense of impending doom when dealing with anything that requires a power-supply. Just last week I had my first hardline installed in over five years! For the first time in my life I have caller ID and call waiting, but as you see here, I can't even "do that" right. In this photo you see my ten-year-old cordeless phone and answering machine with my most recent purchase a caller ID display-unit. Maybe one day I will consolidate these items into one big answering phone with multi-functional display panel, but until then I'll keep this little phone table of mine piled up with equipment. Maybe some day I will have voicemail! Scary.


glittermom said...

I say everyone should have as many toys as they want....and be happy...

SDS said...

It's really an unfair jealousy, really. If you loved to paint no one would critcize your buying the best materials avalaible. If you were an engineer no one would doubt your having the best specs setup on the market. It's not logical for others to project their own technophobias onto you. You keep buying whatever keeps you creative and happy. It will keep your intellect fresh and your career skills marketable.

pablo said...