When it comes to technology, I often find myself trying to live in two camps at once. On the one hand I am interested in new technology and new interfaces, and I want to be one of the first to try something and make some conjecture about how that new thing is or isn’t going to affect peoples’ lives or the technological landscape or what have you. On the other hand, it’s my job to try to empathize with people and imagine the contexts in which they experience the applications I have a hand in designing, and let’s face it, the majority of people out there are still running IE6.
Now I’m not saying I’m going to remain willfully ignorant, but I do try to make sure I’ve at least got my sites broad enough to include slightly outdated hardware and software (a slow-running computer and too-small monitor may be annoying when I’m trying to work from home, but man do I see our sites differently there than I do on my huge, bright iMac at work). The truth is that some people will just refuse to upgrade unless you force them too. And as an aside I think that’s one area where Mac really excels – despite the complaints (and there is often reason to complain), when Apple wants to phase out a technology, they will simply cut it off, with little apology, rather than trying to accommodate everyone. It’s tough love, but it’s really effective in pushing new standards (although I think they’ll prove to have less sway than they’d like to admit in standardizing HTML 5). Microsoft, conversely, I believe is directly to blame for the number of people still running outdated web browsers, and their history of making caveats and disclaimers for what can/can’t run on new OS versions can give people feature-list fatigue when trying to decide whether to upgrade. Apple on the other hand, just reassures you that everything will work fine and practically forces you to upgrade.
So it’s a difficult line to tow. Fortunately I’ve got a new gadget junky of a boyfriend who’s always ready to make the switch or get the new thing, so I have the advantage of having access to that while enjoying the luxury of being a little bit slower to move on my own machinery than I would otherwise be. Maybe not a luddite, exactly, but a skeptic.