March 27, 2015

Improbable Insights : Episode 4 : Commentary

Woo hoo, here comes Episode #4!


I thought my conversation with Loyd on Quality versus Convenience would be relatively straight forward, but by the end, I was really puzzled. I've always prided myself as a hacker or early adopter in all areas, but I realized that is no longer true. I've become much more pragmatic about being an early adopter and I wondered why?

  1. Relevance : How relevant is Tinder to a 40 year old married woman? Who do you SnapChat with when its average user age is under 30? Is Slack useful when you are single woodworker with a LLC in Idaho? Unless you live in a major metro or travel a lot, sharing economy apps like Uber, AirBnB, etc. are less useful. Once you have a multi-thousand dollar speaker system hard-wired into your home, would you consider hauling it all the curb or eBay to install a whole home Sonos system? New solution might be less relevant to you?
  2. Priorities, life style, and time : I think this is the real culprit. As we get older, we go from the relatively unfocused, time-rich living to having all-consuming jobs, a loving family, homes, and a dog that eats everything except dog food. We transition from having the time to explore many things to focused free time and experiences that uniquely appeal to us. Focus, increasing experience and expertise, and increased income allow us to remain hackers and early adopters in some areas, but rarely in all?
  3. Pessimism or realism : When we are young and naive, all new products are amazing. Everything is a new shiny toy. As time goes by, experience teaches us that is not true. Some products delight only until the box is opened. Some delight for hours or days, and only a limited number warrant a high NPS and become an everyday carry or use item. That drop makes us wary, pessimistic, or most aptly, realistic. Living and paying to be at the hacker or early adopter edge of new products isn't all about amazing products and shiny toys. It's about bugs, unfinished features, potential, and finding the difference between what is and what will be. If you have limited time and/or money, how often do you want be in that state?


I ended my conversation with Loyd about speakers sorta bummed. When I was younger, I aspired to build-out the ultimate home theatre room with the best components, ridiculous comfort, and deep automation. Right out of school, I started buying better and better components even though I was only equipping a small apartment. Small budget, small room, but huge passion. I love watching movies! So why today do I have a anemic environment for viewing media where I can't even remember the brand of speakers I own? I have the space, the budget, and the passion, but no media room that Tony Stark would be envious of. What gives?!

My answer is consistent with my above theory. I just don't have the time to invest in that while being a hacker/early adopter in other areas. I'm also tired of buying new, amazing A/V solutions that turns out to be a dud. I'll wait a bit to see if the "amazing" is just PR hype or reality.

After mulling on this, I still am happy with what we discussed on the podcast. Quality versus Convenience is not a binary answer. As time goes by, your answer matures from one blanket answer to dependent on the many interests of your life. You might be an early adopter for gaming and VR, but a mainstream consumer for phones and "everyday carry". For some things, we have the time, passion, intelligence, and budget to be a hacker or early adopter. For other things, we crave stability, reliability, and functionality, regardless of cool or cost. I always thought I'd be 100% hacker/early adopter, but I'm cool with going mainstream in many of the technology areas of my life. It leaves more time to go crazy hacker in others!

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