Nothing is more ephemeral these days than new technology. Even the puffy summer clouds seem to endure longer than today’s new tech. With the clouds, you have a chance to imagine cute farm animals tramping across the azure field above. With the new technology, you get to learn new ways to use the cloud, the technical variety.
The question I have is whether it is imperative or even useful to have the latest gadget or operating system or firmware or software. I have watched with amusement and a tinge of sadness as people rush to the stores to buy the new iPhones, be they the 5C or the 5S. The release of the new phone has come at the same time as the release of Apple’s new iOS. People who already have the iPhone 5 are getting the new iOS. If you have an iPhone 4, which is what I have — technically, the version I have is the MC918LL/A — the iOS upgrade has taken longer to become available, and if you have the iPhone 3 of any variety, you are out of luck. Amazingly, however, if you have any model of iPhone, you probably can still send and recieve texts, phone calls, check email, even check and update your calendar.
T-Mobile has been running a spate of ads recently in which they announce, “Two years is too long to wait.” AT&T has a promotion running in which you sign up for a new program that entitles you to a “new device every year.” Why this rush to continually upgrade? Are we so discontent with technology or so enraptured by the new gadget that we forsake the old model before we fully grasp is functions and utility? Are we trapped in a mindset in which we must “keep up with the Joneses.”
I am not sure I have an answer, but I know of one other time a little technical introspection has been published. I wish I could remember the article I read, perhaps 20 years ago, that discussed technological dissatisfaction. I recall neither the magazine nor the writer. In the article, the author made the point that having sufficient technology is probably, well, sufficient. He cited advertisements from Ford, from the 1970’s, in which drivers were encouraged by buy a new car every year. “What? You’re still driving last year’s model?” That question is obtuse, to me, and today’s T-Mobile and AT&T ad campaigns remind me of that article and the campaign the writer mentioned. Unfortunately, the digitization of old media has not included this old advertisement or magazine article.
Why this rush to continually upgrade? Are we so discontent with technology or so enraptured by the new gadget that we forsake the old model before we fully grasp is functions and utility?
Unless you are in an industry that requires the very latest technolgy be at your disposal, it is not very likely you must have the newest gadget or device. What matters is the ability to be productive, engaged and able to interract with other technologies. Most of us are able to do that, even without having to have an iPhone. I did not have a smart phone until 2009. Yes; 2009!
Of course, I did upgrade my iPhone about 23 months ago, to the 4G, and I have been giving thought to upgrading again in six or nine months, about the time I believe the phone will probably begin to bog down under the weight of a slightly older processor attempting to run update apps, the new iOS releases and, frankly, a desire for a new screen. But I do not trade in my phone every time a new one is released. I also do not update the apps on my phone every time an upgrade is released, unless it is a security patch. In the case of the latest Paypal app, the decision to not upgrade has meant I get to keep a useful application rather than trade it for something meaningless.
The discontent that drives our need for new technology every day may be more a case of following the herd than a careful assessment of one’s own needs. It may also underscore a broader lack of fulfillment completely unrelated to technology. Where it specifically concerns tech, the first question to ask is whether having the new technology or technical upgrade is necessary or even a significant improvement over the current technologies. If the answer is, “No,” you probably can wait for a little while. If the answer is, “But Joe got his,” you are probably a sheep.
Image: Old Automatic Electric rotary dial. Picture from ManufactureDiscontinued.com.
Beyond these considerations, volumes likely could be written, but the cursory analysis presented here is probably sufficient for your own self-examination. Good luck with that upgrade.