5 April 2010

Desire, life, and gadgets

Quinn Norton recently examined iPad ownership based on the needs of the poor and middle-class poor. In contrast to a coworker who, when I told them of the $500 price tag, said stunned: "wow, that's cheap," QN elaborates on the truly affordable tech that ends up in the hands of the poor. When you can get a $250 netbook (sub $200 used) that does everything the iPad does and more, the decision is easy. Comments on her blog dig in w/r/t the definition of "poor" and the need to own an internet device at all. Could you job hunt without a phone? How easily? Could your kids keep up in school without the internet? On an equal footing as their classmates?

A later tweet pointed to a John Scalzi blog post titled Being Poor, written five years ago in response to discussions on Katrina victims and containing nearly 500 comments stretching to this year.

Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.

The urge to purchase the first game console of my adult life included a non-specific yearning that some hole of my life I hadn't yet recognized would be fulfilled. (Sadly, I've had commitments most nights since I received my PS2, and haven't had a chance to dive in seriously.) This is a manifestation of the standard consumer/religion gene that we all carry and from which we chase after nebulous desires. I was reading a review of a Smiths concert video from many years ago where the reviewer noted specifically of a fan who broke from the front rows and ran onto the stage. Prior to security grabbing him, he rushed up to Morrisey, paused in the realization of his desire, and broke down crying. How could it possibly have gone any other way?

My choice to try out this crazy world of video games was paired with an undefined want: the unknown has unlimited potential for epiphany. Is this what drives everyone's gadget lust? Reddit recently posted a link to a watch from Amazon.com costing $88,000 (still not the most expensive one) and we all had a good laugh at how the wealthy will waste their money.

[ updated the next day ]

Forgot about a conversation I had with a hardcore conservative recently who, not mincing words, likened Katrina to the flushing of the toilet bowel. He elaborated that all of the poor who lived in houses they couldn't repair were finally forced out of town. We were talking jazz piano technique (both of us as pianists) so I didn't dig further to clarify whether his idea of "couldn't repair" really meant "were too lazy to repair," so do your own between the line readings. His was a perfect expression of the contempt some have for the poor (and one I have never seen firsthand).

[ posted by sstrader on 5 April 2010 at 7:29:53 PM in Home Network & Gadgets , Phones ]