Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The churning...

The above was sent to me by my friend, Gerry... and it got me to thinking.

I have a London Fog rain coat I purchased in the early 1990s and I swear it looks as good as the day I bought it.  We have a second refrigerator in our garage and it's 26 years old and working perfectly.  There's a TV set in my house that's also 26 years old and it's not going into the dumpster until it dies.

Now as for electronics gadgets (phones, computers, cameras, etc.), none of the ones I use are much older than a year or two.  The problem is that the technology keeps getting better and cheaper... and newer and flashier alternatives are always being announced and brought to market.  And once they get there, the prices precipitously drop and quickly.  Thus creating the churning.

If you type "iPad" into the search box on this blog, you'll see that I've written affectionately about mine on many occasions.  It's a real life changer and I love it.  Or loved it.

The problem?

This is the recently announced 11 inch screen Apple Macbook Air.  It's just slightly more expensive than the highest end iPad, but this is a real computer.  Full Mac operating system.  Full keyboard.  But still light and tiny. Long battery life and instant on.  A person could dump the laptop and the iPad and converge into this one device.  On the surface, it makes a ton of sense.

But, churning does not.

Dan Gilbert speaks about "what makes us happy?"  Hint: it's not having a lot of choices.  Here's the link to his 21 minute video.

When you focus on the tool, you can lose sight of the task.  Case in point: newer and better digital cameras do not, for the most part, improve the quality of the craft.  Newer and better digital gadgetry does not, for the most part, alter the prospects of success in creating the manuscript, balancing the checkbook, presenting the slideshow, browsing the web, answering emails.... or whatever it is that you do on that device.

There is an entire movement dedicated to the less is more school of thought.  Online booksellers are full of guides on how to simplify your life and based on their sales stats, it looks as though many people are reading them.  

Wonder what you think about it.  Feel free to comment...


  1. Sometimes the newer whatever is actually better and for minimal cost, you can upgrade. Sometimes it does improve "the craft".

  2. The Air is an entirely differnt beast than the other two items you mentioned. The ipad is not meant to compete with the laptop. If you get one, you'll miss the ipad, though I understand that you don't want to carry around many toys.

  3. I have seen the Gilbert before (it was going like wildfire around the internet a while back). Being satisfied with a limited number of choices makes sense. As long as you're happy with the choices, that is.

  4. There are a lot of websites about the "simplification movement", but most are political, anti-establishment fronts. Some are environmental/agricultural oriented. Almost like a religion. The ideas are good ones, fundamentally.