My new iPod arrived last night. I love the packaging, the hinged square box with the matte finish that opens up into two compartments, the way in which some of the components nestle within others, even the little strips of plastic tape that are used to lift some of the pieces out of the styrofoam inserts.

When I pulled the iPod itself out of the box and unwrapped it, I accidentally brushed against the very sensitive buttons, and it turned on. Oddly, the menus were all in Japanese, so I couldn’t even figure out how to turn it off until I found instructions in the manual dealing specifically with the situation in which the iPod were (inadvertently) set to a different language.

At this point, all I’ve been able to do is to charge the unit. My PC doesn’t have USB 2 or FireWire ports, so I wasn’t able to connect the iPod in order to transfer any music or files. Today at lunch, however, I drove to the local CircuitCity and bought a PCI card with both FireWire and USB 2, which I’ll install tonight. Of course, this has had the effect of making me want a brand-new computer; my current one is a 2-year-old refurbished Dell with only a 1GHz PIII. For the nonce, though, given all the other expenses I’m incurring, it’s just fine.

Like Gene, I’ve always thought of myself a high-end technology early adopter, one of the Pew Internet and American Life Project’s “technology elite.” My mother still reminds me of the year I asked only for a calculator for Christmas; I was probably 7 or 8 and at that time calculators were big, very expensive, and couldn’t do much more than basic arithmetic and square roots. Just as two other examples, I started using Macs in 1984 and bought my first two years later, and I bought a stereo Beta VCR my freshman year of college; both of these cost me a fortune, given their priciness and my very limited income at the time.

But I was musing yesterday that my pace as an early adopter has been slowing down. My first inkling of this was when my father, who despite his interest in technology had resisted even buying a computer until five years ago, bought a DVD burner last year, a piece of technology I still don’t own. And last week my aunt bought Dell’s Digital Jukebox, their competitor to the iPod, while my 17-year-old nephew has owned an MP3 player for over a year. Yesterday’s iPod is my first.

I still own a Pentium 3 computer without USB 2 or FireWire; mercifully, I did at least upgrade it from Windows ME to XP earlier this year. I’ve never owned a videocamera at all, and my 2.1 megapixel digital camera now also feels woefully underpowered given today’s cheaper yet higher-resolution models. Yes, I have DirecTV (three years ago) and TiVo (earlier this year), but I don’t yet own an HDTV monitor. The Prius is now four years old and I’ve only just committed to purchasing one. My Palm OS Handspring Visor–which I bought the first month they were available–now seems like a toy compared to today’s PocketPCs and Treos.

I do still salivate over many of these new gadgets and technologies, but I’m a little more considered these days. My first Macintosh purchase depleted my savings and still put me into significant debt for the time–yet I did it fairly blithely. Now, although I lust after wall-mounted thin LCD and plasma screens, I absolutely balk at the idea of spending a few thousand dollars for a television, even though I could readily afford it. And, you know, I don’t even really want a Segway at all.

I started wondering if I were suffering from “technology fatigue,” but my excitement over my new iPod and my occasional giddiness over a Prius I don’t yet even have seem to suggest that I’m still capable of being swept away; the love affair with gadgetry is by no means over, it’s just perhaps more akin to the smoldering embers of a lifelong relationship than to the blinding, dizzying passions or infatuations of my youth.

2 thoughts on “technophilia

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