After World War II ended in 1945 a few Japanese soldiers (known as Japanese holdouts) refused to surrender either because they were never told the war was over or simply refused on principle. They continued to hold their islands/positions as instructed by their superiors ten, twenty, and in some cases thirty years after the war had ended.
I know about this footnote of history because the phenomenon seemed to show up often in TV shows and pop-culture produced in the decades following the end of the war. It was a peculiar bit of trivia that, based on real fact, could be dramatized and injected into a show like Gilligan’s Island (So Sorry, My Island Now).
I think TV writers liked it because it can reflect the romantic notions of honor and loyalty, or the stupidity and stubbornness of humans to accept change.
Michael Pusateri posted something he titled “Inventing a Problem” about the latest Apple outrage: an unhackable, unserviceable laptop. Quite a few people got worked up about this fact even though Apple delivered a non-serviceable laptop way back in January 2008. Please read Michael’s post, he has some good arguments that I agree with.
I am a member of a small, private web community that has existed for over ten years. Over those years I have noticed a certain type of member who without fail gets worked up over a change in technology. When Apple dropped the 3.5" diskette they were there. When smartphones began losing physical keyboards they were there. When the Macbook Air debuted without an optical drive they were there. The reasons for their protests are manifold: IT departments will have to redo their policies regarding software installation!, people will design web sites too big for smaller screens!, people will have accidents because you can’t type by touch!, it goes on and on…
When the new Macbook Pro with Retina display was released a few on the site complained that rich designers (who could afford “Stevebooks”) would start designing sites that wouldn’t look good on cheap computers. Setting aside the existence of CSS media queries that can select the correct image for a browser’s resolution and the ever-growing adoption of responsive layouts, I think at the core of this response is that technology is about to drastically change and this scares people.
Now, as I said, I am a member of that community. I too join in on the booing when change starts happening too fast. Even recently fretting over the impending change to the gTLDs.
But in the last couple of days something happened and I can feel my view of the world changing.
Let me rewind a bit: we bought my mom a third-generation iPad. She took it home, used it for a month, and then returned it to us saying she thought it was much too nice to be sitting on the shelf while she used her Macbook Pro. She really likes her Macbook Pro.
I happened to be going on a business trip this week so I took it with me. I actually used the thing as it is intended: I checked and wrote email, I read some books, I watched a couple of documentaries, I shopped. Every time I would think of grabbing my laptop I found myself flipping open the iPad instead.
Yes, I know millions of people have bought these and use them exactly in this fashion. It’s just that I am one of those people who used to pore over CPU specs on Anandtech. I would wait to buy new hardware if it coincided with a game release. I daisy-chained my 3dfx Voodoo card. I overclocked my CPUs for reasons I don’t even remember.
I have a sub-domain for my weblog. I manage my DNS. I use a personalized domain for email. I have been using the internet for TWENTY years! Like some hipster who has been following a band for years I spent 10 of those years not shutting up about the internet, and then the second 10 years wishing everyone would get off my internet.
But somewhere in between that new iPad, the unserviceable laptop non-story, and that idiotic comment about the new Retina displays something in my brain snapped. I give up. I surrender. The war is over. I can’t care about this stuff anymore. Getting annoyed at the pace of technology is fruitless for me. Being cynical about any new bit of technology that doesn’t fit into my view of how stuff should work has been a dragging anchor in my life.
I will admit right now that I am typing this on my Macbook Air. I could not find a blog editor that could publish to Typepad that I was comfortable with, and until MarsEdit for iPad gets written I think I will keep using my laptop for blog posts and of course programming tasks.
But sitting right next to the Air is my iPad in a beautiful DODOcase that just screams “Pick me up!” and so I am going to do that now.