Okay, okay, I was never an early adopter – the only reason we got a computer when we did (1996, refurbished machine with Windows 3.1. I know, right?) was that I happen to be married to a nerd who figured it would be useful for business purposes sometime down the line (it was). And then we got on the Internet in 1997 because we signed up to an online homeschooling program that loaned us a fully-loaded computer complete with dial-up net connection. I can still hear that crreeech-bip-bip-bop-beep-bip sound of the modem when it was dialling. The password was an eight-letter string of gobbledigook which we memorised because we had to type it in every time we went online, for anything.
Other than that, the earliest adoption of new technology was my Kobo ebook reader – I got that in the fall of 2010, when ebook readers were the new & hot thing. And the only reason I got it then was that I wanted something other than a computer screen to read pdf’s on for school (I was still in undergrad at that time). Turned out the Kobo is lousy for pdf’s, but great for reading actual books – so I got sucked into using new technology sort of by a side road.
That’s what happened with the smartphone, too. I’ve had a cell phone for a year or two longer than the ebook reader, but it’s always been just a little flip phone – you know, a cellular telephone. It made phone calls. Ever heard of those? You talk into this hand-held device. With words, in your voice. Audio. That’s about all that phone did; you couldn’t get Google Maps on it or anything. Oh, it did have an alarm clock. And you could do texting on it, for a given value of “texting” (t-de-wx-t-ghi-mn-g, like that). Actually, it’s the texting that made me want to get a new phone; I just wanted some method of doing that more easily, as there are some friends who are most readily reached that way.
So with some birthday-gift money I had, I got myself the next-to-cheapest not-flip-phone my provider was offering, and well, it’s a smartphone. With, you know, Android and stuff. I didn’t even really know what that meant, and had no idea that those not-flip-phones come with (ooh, aah!) wi-fi, so you can do all that smart stuff even if you aren’t paying through the nose for a data plan. That’s right – I can do smartphoney things, even though I have no phone data plan, just some pre-loaded minutes on the phone that allow me to call home to find out if we need milk, or if we already own a copy of Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows. I can use my cheap phone minutes for dumbphone activities while I’m out, and do all those browsery smartphone things at home or wherever there’s free wi-fi.
So there I was, all of yesterday, learning smartphoney skills. The first apps I downloaded, of course, were e-book reader software (Kindle and Overdrive). Maybe I’ll finally get around to reading A Tale of Two Cities, in waiting rooms and what-not, if I have it in my pocket on the phone – that book has been on my to-read list for several years now. I should see if I can download it to the phone – or is that upload, if it’s coming from my computer? See, I don’t even have the terminology straight…
Once again I’ve been pulled through the back door into adopting new technology. I got a device for one purpose, and found it could do cool other stuff I hadn’t really looked for. And once you get used to the cool new technology, you don’t want to be without it. Well, mostly. Fancy cable TV, we’ve adopted and then un-adopted several times so far; it was just not worth it. The smartphone, though, I have a sneaking suspicion will be a keeper, even if it does mean I can no longer look down my long luddite nose and feel superior because I can make do with a flip phone. But you have to make sacrifices somewhere.
Life, the Universe, and My New Smartphone. Welcome to the Twenty-Teens.