Gizmos, Gadets, and Widgets…and Their Clothes

Sometimes I feel like I am amassing my own personal arsenal of technology. I have a device for everything. I have my netbook, which is perfect for taking with me when I’m on-the-go. It almost entirely eliminates the need for any kind of journal, paper, or pen. I have my NookColor, which is great for providing reading selection when I’m out-and-about. And I have my iPhone to fill the gaps in between. Funny, though, that I rarely use my phone for actually making phone calls.

While I have come to rely on these devices more than I care to admit, I am not so blinded by their importance that I can’t admit to getting (dare I say it?) bored with them sometimes. There is no inherent flaw in the devices themselves. They do nothing to provoke these feelings of ennui (ok, maybe the iPhone does occasionally). It’s the constant evolution of technology that plagues me. There is always some later, greater version available than the one in my possession.

In an age when a cell phone is a smartphone, and a smartphone is a handheld computer, in the age of Xooms and Galaxies and iPads, how are we supposed to content ourselves with what we have, instead of lusting after its usurper?

Buying a new case for an old widget is like giving said widget a face-lift. It doesn’t change the nature of the device. It doesn’t increase its operating capacity. It doesn’t update the software. And it doesn’t turn an iPhone into an iPad. But it does change the way I look at the gizmo. It changes the way I want to interact with it.

Some people see these cases as mere elements of protection. They serve no other function than protecting the device from meeting an untimely end. But for those of us who oftentimes see our gizmos as accessories (I’m still enthralled with my newest MK cell phone case), the case takes on a whole new level of significance. It becomes more than a precautionary measure, but it doesn’t change the identity of the device or its user. A case is simply a way to mollify our desire to maintain what we already have. This doesn’t mean that updates become unmerited; there will come a time when my netbook will expire, and I will have the opportunity to once again experience the thrill of possessing a new piece of technology. But in dressing up our gizmos, gadgets, and widgets, we can extend their desirability and our tolerance of always being one step behind.

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