Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Keeping up with the coworkers...or the world

from gizmowatch.com

Just a preface: I talk about my job and my supervisor in this post. And no, I don't say anything here that I wouldn't be okay saying to my boss's face. But I've disabled comments on this post to avoid any comments that could make my boss dislike me. Thanks! :o)

Our TV is over 20 years old. My digital piano is 21 years old. The hubs' laptop is six years old. One of my two is eight years old. Our desktop is a 2001vintage (though some of the components are more recent). We hang on to electronics for a long time. I only got a cell phone in 2004 and I got a dumb phone.

It makes me happy. I'm saving money, the environment, my soul...yeah, you know this already, you may very well do the same.

So what do I do when a supervisor at work comes up and points out that I'm the only one in the group who doesn't have a smartphone? And that they'd really like everyone in the group to have one since we design web pages for mobile devices and it's important that we know what it's like to  use the internet on one of these things? Oh, but the office won't pay for it. What do I do?

Oh, I want one. But I wait. 

A while later my coworkers walk in with fruit-flavored tablet computers the day after the things come out. Look, shiny! We'll be evaluating whether people use things things to view our website soon. So what do I do?

Oh, I really want one. But I wait. 

Christmas comes and the new Android tablets start to come out. People get them for themselves and bring them in to show and share. "Oh, Joanna, did you get one of these?" I'm asked. "No," I say. 

Oh, I really, really want one. But I wait. 

A while later I'm in a meeting with the same supervisor and some coworkers. We're going over a job candidate's interview and deciding if we like the person. The supervisor points good and not-so-good traits about the candidate. Did we think this person was an early adopter?, we're asked. It's important that we have experience with apps and electronic gadgets and even the latest fruit-flavored product if the websites we work on are going to be viewed on these gadgets, I hear. What do I do?

I go out and buy a laptop that has the computing power and programs to develop an app. I go out and buy a tablet computer (a cheap one, though). I go out and buy a fruit-flavored smartphone and a $70/month contract to go with it. When the next one comes out, I'll be openly all excited about it and will run out to get it. I'll show it off at work and proudly view our websites on it. 

And then I'll go home and chew over whether I made the right decision. I may be a librarian by training, but I do more web development and management now than anything else. It does matter that I know what it's like to use an app or to surf the web on a tablet, or on a phone. 

Can I keep up in my field without owning the newest thing every time it comes out? Or am I not tech-savvy simply because I can't bring myself to stay on the hamster wheel of gadget ownership? Could refusing to get the latest device just shoot my career in the foot? 

Can you be tech-savvy yet not have the latest gadget? Have you ever succumbed to consumerism for the sake of your job?