Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Last Minute Shopping Advice


The previous two posts were about neophilia, the love of new things. The best examples are Apple aficionados. They’ve been the standard for buying new computer stuff for decades. I wrote this screed about it in 1997. They haven’t stopped.

If you’re an Apple true believer, your shopping decisions have been made for you. If you’re not—and the nots are in the majority—you’re probably agonizing over computer-related shopping. Or, if not in actual pain, you are deep in befuddlement. It’s a little late on the calendar, but there is a way out of your shopping misery.

The key is perspective. Given the onslaught of new technology, it’s the best method for making safe and sane decisions. Here’s how: first find perspective (gather it); next consolidate it (build it into a useable tool); and finally maintain it (update continually).

The details of how I acquired perspective would make a not-so-brief history of affordable personal computing. The hardest part, for anyone, is maintaining this perspective in the face of rapidly changing technology.

The first rule: If your perspective doesn’t include the very latest, then don’t buy it. Another way to say this is, buy what you know. If you need to buy now and are properly cautious about buying the newest, don’t worry. You’ve stumbled onto the principle of leapfrogging.

For those who remember the Cold War, leapfrogging was how the Soviet Union appeared to keep up and occasionally surpass the US. They didn’t try to match us stride for technological stride. Taking risks (cloaked by secrecy), they saved money by skipping steps. In 1990 I wrote: “computing is not like a ladder, you don’t need to step on every rung to move up.”

Skipping steps saves money and buys peace of mind. Bottom line is know your priorities. Being fashionable is far less important than survival. Remember, we’re here only because our ancestors didn’t rush to eat the shiny new fruit. If you don’t learn from the past, you will have no future.

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