July 12th, 2005


Confessions of a Sampler: Late and Early Adopters of Technology

As most of you who know me well are aware, I am a sampler. I dabble; I taste; I try things out before I buy into them fully. This includes technologies, ideas, research and educational topics, political views, economic plans, administrative approaches, financial investments, and even meal selections.

In any matter of mind (over heart or faith), I tend not to invest fully in any one ideology or preference.

This has tended to make me the "odd user out". At the KBS lab at the Beckman Institute in chambana, I was the rebel Linux user in a Windows NT group (ask alpenglow); at the NCSA Automated Learning Group, I was one of few choosers of NT4 over Irix 6.x and MacOS 9 (ask jellybeanzulu); and when I first came to k_state, I was the lone Irix and MacOS X user in a department that predominantly favored Linux and SunOS (ask anybody). In a funny twist, I also started using Windows 2000 and Windows XP in release candidate and public preview editions, a bit earlier than most.

And thus my dichotomy: I am often an early adopter, eager to try new technologies; be they blogging services or IM clients, you'll find me trying them before 90% of my friends overall. Meanwhile, I am also often a late adopter, behind 90% of my friends on actually getting into the swing of using things. I lead the pack and follow the herd. Take Linux distributions: I started running Slackware in 1995, yet am still struggling with Ubuntu and Gentoo today. I just started using reliable photo management software this January, but I've been hosting photo albums for years. My Yahoo! Groups account dates back to 1999, my own USENET posts to 1993, and my saved FAQs from newsgroups to the days when e-mail addresses had bangs instead of ats in them (1987 at least).

I like computer science. Some days, I also like computers. Other days, I feel like tossing the telescopes out with the bathwater. ;-)