One of the things about being a geek is that when it comes to new gadgets we like to be on the cutting edge. If I could I would be walking around with Google Glass strapped to my head, flexible solar paneling in my clothing and an ultraslim i7 laptop in my pocket. I would have a pocket big enough for such a thing as I would even buy my clothes on the cutting edge of tech. Plenty of pockets to carry all the different devices that I could not conceive of being without for the journey down to the shops, and with a bit of luck it would be made of a modern fabric which is cool in the heat and warm in the cold, with anti-bacterial materials to keep me smelling sweet, real Star Trek stuff.
What has been bothering me lately is that if I did upgrade my personal space to this level I would discover by about this time on the Tuesday after next that suddenly I am out of date. Gadget obsolescence will have struck and I will be realizing that despite my high tech aspirations to live on the cutting edge I am one step closer to carrying the sort of get up that will probably be all the rage amongst the drunken bums who are sleeping in the doorways of 2050. Lets face it they won’t have released the eventual uber-gadget that I hope each new purchase will be until long after I am dust anyway.
It is partially the cost of continually upgrading that is holding me back. Tech is expensive and if you want nice new stuff you have to pay out. Even the wealthiest of you out there know that feeling. It is probably worse for those who have enough money to buy things outright. They wake up in the morning and decide to buy a new computer/phone/tablet, they get it home and unwrap it, set it up and as soon as they get onto the internet the first thing they see is that Google have just announced Google-genie which grants three wishes everyday and also fixes holes in socks. That has got to burn.
It is of course this constant revelation that the next big thing is round the corner that is my biggest reason for holding back on my tech purchases. With the iPhone we have grown used to a new one every year but it is now rumored we may be getting a new one not so long after the last one came out. It just happened with the iPad, it may be happening with the iPhone as well. This is naturally of little concern to anyone who prefers Android. The greatest strength of Android is that there is so much choice, and whenever new features become possible they are soon implemented. The greatest strength of the iPhone is that if you get your yearly upgrade you know that you have the best and that you can relax for another year. At least I assume that is how people feel, due to my ethos I have missed the last three iPhones and am still using the 3Gs.
Mr. Pirillo once said something like ‘the best phone you can get is the one you like the most’. I whooped when I heard this. It is true. My ancient choice of personal communicator created back in the golden age when Steve Jobs still walked the Earth was the best phone I could get after all. I knew it. I don’t know why everybody else doesn’t believe me. I assume that is what their little chuckle and broad grin mean when they compare it to their new pocket device which makes the intergalactic communicator that E.T. built look a lot like some piece of junk that you’d find in a kid’s bedroom.
The thing is that I like all my ancient devices. Laptops are the worst to upgrade. I could have done that so often but reinstalling everything is such a pain. Cloud computing will really help the upgrade cycle. That is why everyone is pushing it so much. I do still want the new stuff but in the last few years as each new thing has gone past I have breathed a sigh of relief. I might not have got that awesome new gadget but now that means I still have the opportunity to lust after, and not buy the next awesome gadget. I am beginning to think that the time to upgrade will soon be here. This brings me to the topic I wished to discuss today.
Having awesome tech is great but the problem is that everyone has awesome tech now. Being awesome is far more awesome than having awesome tech. Imagine if we had the language abilities of Jason Bourne or wrote books as prolifically as Stephen King. What if we could take photos like Ansel Adams or identify bush tucker like Bear Grylls? These are just a few examples of awesomeness in action. They do what they do without tech. Just imagine what they could do with tech. Jason Bourne would have benefited from Frenchpod101; Stephen King would have been carrying a little folding keyboard with his smart phone for his entire career; Ansel Adams would have had an ultra lightweight 32MP camera and some great editing software; Bear Grylls would have learnt from a dozen guides to native plants on an electronic device in his pocket. These guys have all succeeded in becoming massively famous without using the kind of tech we all have in our pockets now. Jason Bourne became massively famous whilst suffering the severe disability of being fictional. What do we manage to do with the benefit of all these space age devices? Often a lot less than we could.
What our tech represents is the power of awesome. 500 years ago it was so much more difficult to be awesome but now we can learn languages in a matter of a few months or edit videos that would put to shame the movies of 100 years ago in only one evening. There is more competition with the rest of humanity because they have these devices as well, but the real competition is with ourselves. The feeling of accomplishment is something that we should all aim for. It is far more satisfying than the feeling of having a new gadget that has just been surpassed by a newer gadget. If all we do is consume these things, then long after we have gone, they will continue to evolve as though we were never here. If we start to use them to accomplish great things then long after we have gone our memory could live on while they continue to evolve. Stephen King has left a legacy that will be read in e-book collections long after here is no longer here. If Ray Kurzweil is right about the singularity then maybe we will all live for centuries anyway. Personally I will take my chances on immortalizing myself the way so many names in history have done.
I have therefore made a decision. I think my approach is one that we should all take. I am therefore here today to invite you to join with me. We shouldn’t be satisfied with letting our tech companies fill our lives with awesome toys; we should build awesome lives for those awesome toys to occupy. I am going to upgrade my gadgets but I am going to earn it. First of all I am going to make good use of the gadgets I currently have. I am not just going to use them for work and for watching YouTube or checking out Facebook. I am going to look into what great possibilities are available. What great apps and websites are there that can turn around my life for a few pennies or even for free. It would be great to have new devices but if I am going to get new devices then I should find good reasons why I need them; in order to do that I should find good reasons to have the devices I own now.
Every time I use my current gadgets to accomplish something awesome I am going to reward myself by giving myself ‘awesome points’ and when I have given myself enough ‘awesome points’ I will also have put aside enough money to afford a new laptop or smartphone that I will know I have earnt by achieving my goals. It is the ultimate upgrade; not only will I be upgrading my tech, I will be upgrading myself. ‘Me 2.0’. In the long run I intend to learn a new language, write a series of books, climb a mountain, shoot a movie; all the things that make life worth living. In the short run I am going to try and get a blog posted on LockerGnome, this one in fact. Now that would be an awesome start to a career of awesome wouldn’t it? What are you going to do to reach You 2.0? We only live once and if we all earn our upgrades by upgrading ourselves first wouldn’t humanity be a fantastic group of people to know.
I am Ro Atkinson. Formerly “Past Ro” and soon to become “Future Ro.” Technically I am a lecturer in law but I tend to think that this must involve consideration of jurisprudence and philosophy.
I am scattered around the net under a series of noms de plume, largely inspired by Shakespearian characters. Most commonly I am Harry Monmouth.”