When Tech Became Cool

Nearly a year ago, I moved to Mac.

I recall it quite clearly when it happened.  I was planning a new Windows Box purchase as soon as Windows 7 came out.  Then I had a virus on my computer, which I managed to fix.  My wife and roommate of the time, both Mac users, had long been suggesting I use a Mac.

So after having blown an evening dealing with my first virus infection in years (apparently due to a PDF vulnerability), I began reflecting on the advantages of having a Mac:
* All the basic software I need.
* Great service and support.
* Much less viruses and such targeting it – and good onboard security to boot.
* Long lifespan.

This all added up though to one, important thing – less frustration.

I'm a busy person.  I'm a PM in technology, and thus no longer being a programmer, a computer crisis is not a Valuable Learning Experience.  I can't imagine what computer problems are like for people who don't have an IT background, though I can guess from the amount of times my friends and I play tech support.

But Mac is relatively frustration-free.  Mac is fast, slick, sexy, and gets the job done.

That's what I wanted.  That's why I got a Mac.  It's also a reason I hear for a lot of people using a Mac.

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Free, Fremium, and More in the Great Recession

So recently I put the game Dungeon Fighter on my Asus Netbook.  Dungeon Fighter is an interesting game – a side-scrolling beat-em-up game and an MMO at the same time.  You play one of several unique classes (that at times vary from fantasy archetypes or expand them), fight monsters in modular dungeons, and have colorful sprite-based fun.  It's easy, simple, surprisingly deep, and the Priest class whacks enemies to death with giant crosses, scythes, and rosaries, so how could I resist.

The game is of course free-to-play, but you can blow cash on getting extra equipment, respecs to re-build your character, and, of course, character clothing so you don't look like everyone else.  Very standard model.

So as I played this game, I debated if I wanted to get some credits in the game for extras.  It suddenly struck me that the freemium, free-to-play, and other free-but models differ from the usual monthly-charge MMO games in another way besides the obvious.

They allow you to timeshift your expenses.

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The Tribes Of Gadgets

My wife has an Android.  My co-workers have iPhones.  I'm a recent Mac convert.  These issues and more come up in discussions among people, in banter, and on serious work subjects.

In each case, I begin to notice something about  people as they discuss their smartphone or computer or whatever gadget they use.  There's a tribal feel to it.

People identify with the tech they use.  Android users can swap stories about their experiences.  Mac users trade tips and advice, and even mock the image of Apple users.  Cell phone plans are discussed, printers are rated, and USB brands discussed.

Think of these social groups as Gadget Tribes – or Gadgetribes.

Stand back for a moment and think about the gadgets you use.  Do you identify with them, with other users?  Do you have friends you trade tips with, or forums you hang out on reguarly?  Does the subject come up in conversation when you whip out your DS or your iPhone?

Are you part of any Gadgetribes?

I think what we witness with Gadgetribes is identification with technology that's always been there, but that is far more widespread due to increased use of technology, and deeper due to the power that new technologies bring us.  This use, this depth of power, makes Gadgets unavoidable and desirable for us.  Humanity's social nature of course – and our need to share experience – means we form tribes around our gadgets.

For progeeks, the Gadgetribe phenomena is important:

  • It means that, professionally, if we can identify with others who are part of the same Gadgetribe, we can more easily establish rapport.
  • Being aware of Gadgetribe identification can tell us when we're tuning out others due to their being part of another tribe.
  • Understanding that deep identification can help us understand the loyalty and identification we want products we work on to have.
  • It represents the continuation of the classic identification with technology we've seen in the days of car enthusiasts and the like – but we need to realize its power and depth.
  • We can better understand conflicts and identification that people may have over seemingly trivial matters.

Keep an eye out for Gadgetribes, and you'll see them.

Once you see them, you can ask what it means for you as a progeek.

– Steven Savage