A Changing (Tech) World

My mother has been looking for another computer we got her a Toshiba that was on sale but due to multiple issues she wants another one.

Now she turned to me because if you know more than five things about a computer you automatically become the resident tech expert. In that capacity I have tried to get her the device that fits her needs perfectly. And in that capacity I have utterly failed.

See the thing is the person buying a computer today, and that includes tablets and smartphones, isn’t a person like me or the type of person that visits The Verge or Engadget. We don’t use technology like my mom or my sister or the people who go the Apple store.

Now my mom wants to learn about how to use a computer and she needs things like Word and PowerPoint, but outside of that her actual computer needs are light. She doesn’t need to run programs like Visual Studio or Photoshop. She doesn’t need a device that is capable of playing Crysis.

And she is not representative of a minority user, I and most tech geeks are.

And to be honest when I look at my own usage and needs I think I am more of the type of user my mother represents than the kind that trolls ZD Net. This shift in use case and users is having an effect on computers.

For a longtime a PC has been judged on the amount of power it has and on the amount of “stuff” you could do to it or with it. That whole world view has been represented by the power user and the tech enthusiast. Its why an OS like Android is deemed more geek friendly than Windows Phone and why Windows RT is considered DOA.

That need for power along with corresponding notions on “real” computing overlook the reality that computing and what is considered a computing device has been shifting over the last decade. And with that shift computing has moved to becoming both appliance and utility.

Online people debate use cases or tablets and Chromebooks and whether people can get real work done all the while people are using them to get work done. Various reporters complain about the necessity of Windows RT while students use it just fine.  Online people talk about people never using iPads over Macs or PCs because they can’t do Photoshop while Adobe releases Lightroom for the iPad and Microsoft releases Visual Studio on the Web.

To bring this back home in looking for my mother the perfect device I re-learned the “reality” of technology; technology for everybody else is the tool and not an end unto itself.

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