For one reason or another, I’m finding that life after being a product reviewer is a bit less scripted than marketing budgets and product release schedules would have you believe. You aren’t as ruled by rumors of a misrepresented future, and there’s something to be gained from minding your own roads. Or, something like that. I’m probably a bit on the “ready to share with the world” side of why I’m concluding two experiments, and branching into something like another.
Experiment #1: Twitter
Some years ago. Maybe it was 2008. Maybe it was a bit later than that. Whenever it was, I pushed reluctantly into the Twitter universe. FIrst, it was through the Mobile Ministry Magazine endeavor (@mobileminmag). At some point, I just realized that I was having too many personal conversations and so branched that into a personal account (@arjwright). A little bit of a replacement for blogging, email, and research. Suitable for a morning newspaper when I had a sense of global and regional everythings. And something of a time-sink when I needed to get other things done and would rather let the tone of Twitter-tuned conversations pulsate my moment.
And then I saw something. Someone that I follow on Twitter (I think it was James Whatley, aka @whatleydude) mentioned something like going off of Twitter when he/she hit 20K (20 thousand) tweets. I looked at my number and said, “you know, that’s not a half bad idea.” At the time, I was about 500 tweets away from that mark and that meant that I’d have to move quickly to either replace Twitter, or find something better to do with my time. Technically, I’ve figured neither of those out.
What I have figured out is that I won’t close my personal Twitter account. At least not at this point. Its quite useful for some aspects of research that I just don’t want to put into my personal RSS reader. And for some kinds of direct communication, its a bit more directed than even text messaging. But I won’t tweet or retweet. I’ll let it linger, and let some of the web services that I use that publish to it remain with that ability. I’ll essentially become a bot. I’ll see what happens on my stream as my N9 is connected to it. But, I won’t put much energy into keeping it alive with direct personal ramblings. That’s what a blog is for… one that I’m itching to reinvent.
Experiment #2: Kindle FIre HD (or, Android As Tablet)
The other experiment that’s ending. Or, transforming into something else is that of using the Kindle Fire HD as a reading and creation tablet. It wasn’t by any means a bad idea for a purchase, but in a reflective moment – the moment when I dropped it and the screen cracked something fierce – I realize that either I’m more content with a tablet device that is a creation-first station (my iPad), or that I just don’t want what Amazon offers as a vision for a tablet.
So I purchased a Samsung Chromebook (and yes, that’s a link to a post on Google+.
I want to have those moments where I code and write. And I don’t want the accessory of a wireless keyboard – no matter how ergonomic that it is. I want the tablet in my life to occupy a space similar to that a Moleskin does for many of you who doodle and dribble. My tablet is a blank canvas where my ideas get spread and potentially catalyzed into something that might become an article, might become code, or might even replace email. I don’t want the PC of the 1990s to be done. And when I do need that aspect of computing, I want the freedom to expose why it doesn’t work.
That’s not something that I could do with the Kindle FIre HD without adding a stylus, cover, and other details that detract from creating and get me into that frame of consuming. Personally, I know that I can do better with computing than that. That’s why its replaced with a Chomebook.
That doesn’t mean there’s no place for Amazon for me. I really enjoy Cloud Player and Kindle. Those are items that I don’t see leaving my digital locker just yet. I just don’t see using a Sears/JC Penny catalog as my composition book as being all that profitable. Computing for me has moved differently.
[weirdly enough, I am considering just picking up a Kindle/Kindle Paperwhite just for those quieter reading times when I’m certain that drawing and writing aren’t so necessary]
The Branched Experiment: Samsung Chromebook
And here’s where the Chromebook comes into play. I’ve got this love-hate relationship with some of the things that Google runs into. Chrome/ChromeOS is one of them. On one end, I see the inevitible end of things where ChromeOS becomes so well developed that it is what Android is now – offline, touchy, speedy, and all. To another end, I just needed to have a piece of hardware that has no noise to it.
I think its appalling today that there are so many system bubbles, concerns for updating software, and compromises on speed and efficiency at a lower price strata. It doesn’t make sense that computers get faster and batteries aren’t used better. It doesn’t make sense that there’s all of this apparent “web is great” development happening, but so many of those proclaiming this are living in a natively coded application, on a service they want to only pay access fees to, in order to have a soapbox that’s propped up in part by…
…this is an opportunity to live in part some of the connected-disconnected space that some of us think that parts of the emerging world will rewrite for the better. I’m not even certain that the Chromebook is really an answer – its a network terminal that assumes you trust Google and their partners with more and more of your life than you probably think. I read the terms of service, it took a minute to decide that I wasn’t going to put this back in the box and put that money towards another memory with my lady.
I don’t know how things with this Chromebook will last. And I’ve got to settle things such as editing the TiddlyWiki that’s stored on my N9 and moving my HTML/UX developing tendencies to it. I don’t know that this makes a lot of sense at all. I just know that its ok to branch and figure out what does and doesn’t work.
There are times that I look back at the times when I reviewed devices and applications and wondered if I pushed the conversation in the right direction. I know there were times that I tried and was met with a combination of resistance and loathing. Then I’d return to some of those communities and find that not only have some of those persons moved in that direction, but they are now espousing some of the same thoughts and actions that I once said would or wouldn’t be normal. At least when it comes to tech, there are parts of this life which make sense when experimented upon. We learn what works and what doesn’t. And in the process, discover something about ourselves that makes for a lesson to others.
Twitter and the Kindle Fire HD might be ending… but that doesn’t mean the steady stream will. The key with branching is to be sure that you stay connected to what enables life. After that, the fruit will define whether the tree was good or not.