Is it a tech toy or an investment?

google-glass-rachel-king-2948When the one-day opportunity to order Google Glass came up recently, I jumped on it. I had tried on Marta Rauch‘s pair a couple months ago, and had seen her presentations about it, and fell in love with them. This was wearable technology I could use, as far as I was concerned! I was able to order the Glass I wanted, and was very excited about it…until I told my husband. I didn’t tell him how much it cost, but I did tell him that I bought them. He totally flipped out, but not in a good way. He felt that whatever I did spend on them, it was too much money for a “toy”. I’m earning some good money now, and I felt it was an investment–I’d like to explore how they are used, and how technical communication and m-learning would be part of the wearable technology experience for myself. But no.  I cancelled the order, as he had a good point about the cost being too high. Even so, I’m really sad about missing out on this opportunity.

Financial considerations aside, it got me thinking about technological “toys”, and what’s truly a “toy” versus adopting early technology, albeit at a high price initially. I’ve heard Neil Perlin talk about how he had some of the earliest portable computers around–nothing like the laptops of today–that cost a small fortune even by today’s standards. Sure, it’s outdated and obsolete technology now, but so are a lot of other technologies that were around just a few years ago. Children today don’t know what a Walkman is, or that telephones used to actually have a cord and you actually used a dial mechanism to connect your phone to another phone. Heck, pay phones are pretty much obsolete now.  What did people think when the first iPhone or the first flip phone came out? Those are obsolete now, too.  So, sure, perhaps Google Glass is a very expensive “toy”, but how does anyone know if perhaps I was really an early adopter and I’d be ahead of the curve for knowing how to make it work and use it for practical reasons if I had actually gotten one?

I remember when I got my first iPad–it was an iPad 2. I had saved up, and asked anyone who was going to be getting me a gift for my birthday, holidays, etc. to give me gift cards to Best Buy so I could purchase it.  I was so thrilled when I got it, and my husband thought that was a waste of money. He insisted that I already had a laptop, and didn’t need an iPad, that again–it was just a toy. I insisted that yes, there were “toy” elements to it, but I considered it “computing lite”, where I could do many tasks that I normally do, but the ones that didn’t necessarily need my laptop to be powered up. Then, about a year later, I was fortunate enough to win an iPad3 so I could upgrade. My husband had insisted that I sell my old one, but for all his moaning that I should get rid of it, guess who’s been using it for almost two years now? Yep, him. It’s still a little bit of a “toy” to him, but he’s a news junkie, and he loves to read different news sources and some light research on it when he’s not using his desktop (nope, he doesn’t even own a laptop). So, it’s not going anywhere. My iPad has gone with me all over the country–on vacation, to conferences, and has entertained me when I don’t need to be in front of my laptop. I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of mine multi-fold. And yet…I feel like this is the same situation.

Of the emerging techologies that are coming out, whether they are wearables or something else, what do you think is a tech “toy” and what do you think could be the next big thing, or a step towards the next big thing? 3-D printers and Google Glass have my attention–I would love to own both of them. What has your attention? Add your thoughts to the comments below.

About TechCommGeekMom

Danielle M. Villegas is a technical communicator who has recently started her own technical communications consultancy, Dair Communications. She has worked at the International Refugee Committee, MetLife, Novo Nordisk, and BASF North America, with a background in content strategy, web content management, social media, project management, e-learning, and client services. Danielle is best known in the technical communications world for her blog, TechCommGeekMom.com, which has continued to flourish since it was launched during her graduate studies at NJIT in 2012. She has presented webinars and seminars for Adobe, the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the IEEE ProComm, and at Drexel University’s eLearning Conference. She has written articles for the STC Intercom, STC Notebook, the Content Rules blog, and The Content Wrangler as well. You can learn more about Danielle on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/daniellemvillegas, on Twitter @techcommgeekmom, or through her blog.
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2 Responses to Is it a tech toy or an investment?

  1. Larry Kunz says:

    Wow — I can see both sides of the issue. Your side, because you articulated it so well and because I notice that your husband is engrossed in that iPad 2 that he said you should sell; and his side, because I usually prefer to keep my wallet in my pocket rather than embracing shiny new technologies.
    I have no doubt that having Google Glass would be fun for you, and it would probably make you a better technical communicator too. Maybe it’s time to broadcast another appeal for Best Buy gift cards.

    • The conversation he and I had was due to the fact that as a contractor, my contract goes until the end of the year, and we have no idea if it will be renewed again or not. My husband was being cautious in these less-that-stable economic times, understandably. And he did think the cost was too high, since we could easily get two new laptops for the same price (or one super swanky one), which would get more use in his eyes. He had a point in those regards, and that’s why I conceded. However, he did say that if my contract was renewed at the end of the year, and Google Glass put out another offer around Christmas, then he wouldn’t object as much as right now.

      He does understand the idea of emerging technologies and wanting to be involved with that. Part of it is that it’s hard to predict what will succeed and what won’t. I even read an article today that showed that even Google doesn’t know what Glass is for yet, and is letting the “Glass Explorers” figure it out for them. So, perhaps in the long term, waiting is better.

      My problem is that I get very excited about cool technologies like this. I want to be a part of it so badly, and feel like this interest in emerging technologies is something to be encouraged, because as a tech comm, we never know what the next big thing will be. I’d like to be ahead of the curve for a change instead of constantly playing catch-up, and this looked like an opportunity to do that.

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