Aug 28, 2008

Cranky, yes. Accurate? No.

Steve Hodson must be a cranky old fart, as his byline says and his post supports, because he sure paints an arrogant picture of early adopters.

I’m a cranky old fart myself. And an early adopter, I guess, by his standards, as I’m quick to try out most of the tech-bling showing up. But the rest of his article doesn’t fit. It sounds more like someone wouldn’t let him into some clubhouse he perceives to exist.

I love Ubiquity. I’ve been waiting for it for a long time. I love it because it works like I want to work, like the people I know want to work. Reading an article and don’t understand a word, or want to see a picture to better understand something? Pop into Ubiquity and there’s your answer. Sure beats trying to search your bookmarks because you can’t remember the name of that site that can give you the answer you need.

I use Twitter, but I like Friendfeed more. I like Plurk. I like Utterz. I signed up right away. I’m still eagerly waiting for other beta invites. I signed up for a lot of things right way, and each new variation that comes along, I’ll sign up for them too. Because what’s here right now could be better, and I’m eager to find it. And I’m amazed that so much of it is free, so many things that can help me in my life, in my work, in my never-ending quest for knowledge about my world and the people in it.

So yes, I guess I’m passionate about new techie things. But does that make me some kind of snob? I don’t think so. I could care less about the latest, greatest new thing if it has to do with web design. I do not own an iPhone, nor am I likely to own one until the prices become far more reasonable and the service becomes far more reliable. I don’t have a Kindle. I still like the feel of a book.

Yes, early adopters are a miniscule part of the web. But isn’t that human nature? For every car enthusiast, aren’t there millions of us who just want to hop in and get where we’re going?

For every comment some passionate might make over who should and who should not use a service/object/site there’s another passionate who would jump at the chance to show a non-techie how to use it. These early-adopters are some of the most generous people I know. They can’t wait to share invites to private betas, to answer questions about how to set something up, to encourage someone who wants to try something in a new way. Those who have the talent will spend hours of personal time adapting code, making improvements, adding another dimension – then turn around and freely share it.

I know someone who recently connected with an old high school friend, took a trip to see them. A rather unpleasant and grueling trip. Things turned out all right, but it’s not likely to happen again anytime soon. Now, they could be spending a few minutes every few days chatting over the net, using a webcam. Ok, not as satisfying as a flesh and blood hug, but certainly a lot better than a plain telephone call (especially when the bill comes.) Will they do it? No. They don’t even own a computer. What kind of a connection are they missing with this friend? A big one, in my view.

I know others who own computers, even have access to a high-speed connections, and still don’t venture any further than e-mail and an occasional website someone else has directed them to. To me, that’s like going to the library and refusing to look beyond the childrens section.

I fit in the early adopter, passionate category. But don’t tell me I don’t care about the “real world users of the web”. They’ve been driving me nuts for years.

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