I was a little girl who loved sports and gadgets. Thanks to a computer scientist dad and a feminist mother, my sister and I went to basketball camp instead of Girl Scouts, and played with Lego Mindstorms instead of Barbies. Our grandfather, also an engineer, contributed to our tomboyish upbringing via his obsession with any new piece of technology. Instead of the zoo or playground, he’d take me on a monthly grandfather-granddaughter excursion to…(drum roll please)…Best Buy! We’d roam the aisles and try out any random gadgets we could find, until we each picked out something new to buy. I’d come home beaming with the latest calculator or digital pocket organizer in hand, and spend hours in my room learning all its features.
Sometimes I miss that innocent excitement for the next coolest thing. At that age I never cared what the long-term benefits were for the Casio Digital Diary in my hand, or if it would work in tandem with the closetful of devices I had back home. In a pre-cloud era, it simply didn’t matter.
In today’s saturated technology market, I find myself constantly assessing products in the context of their ecosystem. I own a Macbook, iPad, and iPhone and the seamless experience of transitioning between Apple devices has me locked into their products. The same goes for Google – my online identity is so tied to Google via Gmail, Google+, Maps, and more, that I’ll immediately switch to using any new Google product so I can tie more of my experience to a central entity. I love Evernote, but I’m moving to Google Keep the second it comes to iOS.
The idea of creating yet another identity from scratch feels cumbersome – setting up a profile, choosing preferences, and downloading apps. It’s why we prefer signing into sites with Facebook, Twitter, or Google instead of using custom registration. But it also brings a wariness of new devices that don’t fit into our current ecosystems. It’s why I won’t consider buying a Samsung Galaxy Gear (other than the negative reviews), when I could wait for an Apple watch that syncs with my laptop, tablet, and phone. It’s also why I prefer my Apple TV over a smart TV, even if some of them have better apps. While it’s great to approach purchases from a holistic perspective, I sometimes yearn for a time when I didn’t care about the permanence of that shiny new gadget and just bought the damn thing!