The late adopter

Commentary

I’m what they call a late adopter when it comes to technological gadgets. Though the emphasis in that phrase should be on the adopter, because eventually not only do I adopt new technology but I become its most annoying evangelist.

Usually, I’m resistant in adopting something new, simply because I have so much access to existing technology that seems to work fine. I remember when my (still) favorite cell phone, the Samsung U700, decided to throw in the towel and I had to get a new phone by force. I stood in front of the 30-or-so phones on display and proceeded to internally debate as to whether I should get a touch phone instead. I would ask the salesperson at intervals, “Should I get a touch phone?” repeatedly, and the fact that there was no one in the shop but me made for a pretty uncomfortable exchange for the both of us. In the end I caved in. Today, I’m all for touch technology and all the great conveniences it affords us at the touch of a fingertip (and with a little help from 3G connectivity). You can be the smart-ass of the group at any time — who wouldn’t cherish that?

The same happened when I bought my Kindle ink display. I was doing work on my laptop till late one night during Christmas vacation, and then I got it in my head that having a bunch of Kindles at the school could revolutionize how my students do research. I started getting so excited about it and before I knew it, I had added the product to my basket and I was about to click buy.

I always work on impulse, and I knew that this impulse might have been an unwarranted splurge so I tried to wake up my boyfriend, passed out on the couch, to get an “OK do it, it’s a great idea!” Somehow getting a verification from a third, outside party always works in stroking all my financial insecurities. He tried to be objective, but he was drowsy and it worked to my advantage because two days later, I had a Kindle in my hands that I didn’t know what to do with. I’m an avid reader, and I’m one of those people that loves touching books, leafing through them, stacking them next to my bed, the toilet, the door. So the Kindle brought with it a little existential crisis: did I just betray the book? And what if I ended up loving the Kindle? And so I gave myself the excuse that I would buy e-books that I wasn’t 100% keen on — second-choice books, if you will. But of course, what happens when after you read a second-choice book, you realize it’s actually pretty great? Turns out, nothing happens. Because you’ve still read it, and you feel all the better for it. I marveled at the accessibility, speed and convenience of an e-reader. And it helped me mix up my reading: a real book by my bedside table, an e-book in my bag that I can take out and read whenever I’m waiting in line somewhere and an audiobook in the car.

That’s right. Time wasted: zero. Knowledge gained: maximum.

So recently, I had another great, yet borderline stupid, idea that had me convinced I was missing another gadget in my life. Before breaking off for summer vacation, I borrowed an iPad from school so I could experiment with ways I could actually incorporate use of tablets in my lesson. Needless to say, after some extensive research, I was convinced that this was a great tool that I, as of yet, hadn’t been utilizing. The problem was that I couldn’t very well customize the borrowed iPad to play around with possible apps that could work for different class activities, and so I was actually debating getting an iPad, to add to my technological arsenal. Everyone I asked, first gave me a sour expression. So I asked more people. Turns out, Twitter was for it, as was my bestie across the globe. Verification confirmed. Add to that a random promotional e-mail I received on my school e-mail that informed me of a €100 discount, and heck, even the universe was giving its benign nod to my newest obsession.

And so, hello iPad.

I’m still experimenting, so please, share your iPad insight. I’m in the process of becoming an enthusiast, but I haven’t quite recovered from the shock of realizing the sum of all the technology I own. Sure, my generation has been labeled digital natives, but I wonder the extent to which that’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy or an act of voluntary digital immersion. Behind the glow of LCD screens and frantic tapping we are illuminated with the power of the internet and its connectivity. And that kind of connection in an increasingly disconnected world has come to mean something. It’s come to mean a lot.

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